Monday, October 16, 2017

New Discovery, Abu Sir: Parts of A Ramses II Temple Uncovered in Giza's Abusir

Cartouche of Ramesse II. Courtesy of the Czech Institute of Egyptology
The newly uncovered temple in Abusir necropolis helps piece together the activities of Ramses II in the Memphis area. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Parts of a temple to King Ramses II (1213-1279 BC), along with reliefs of solar deities, have been uncovered by an Egyptian-Czech mission during excavation work in Abusir necropolis in the the governorate ofGiza

Mohamed Megahed, deputy to the mission director, told Ahram Online that the temple is located in an area that forms a natural transition between a terrace of the Nile and the floodplain in Abusir. He added that the temple is 32 by 52 metres and behind it was a large forecourt along with two identical and considerably long storage buildings to the right and left side of the complex.

Studies carried out so far, Megahed explained, show that it can be assumed that stone columns lined the side walls of the court, which was enclosed by mud brick walls that were in at least some places painted blue. The rear end of the court, a ramp or staircase leads to an elevated stone sanctuary whose back part was divided into three parallel chambers.

“The remains of this building, which constitutes the very core of the complex, were covered with huge deposits of sand and chips of stone of which many bore fragments of polychrome reliefs,” Professor Mirsolave Barta, director of the Czech mission, told Ahram Online. He pointed out that the fragments not only show the decorative scheme of the sanctuary, but also function to help date the entire complex.

A relief on which is engraved the different titles of King Ramses II was also found, as well as another connected to the cult of solar deities such as Re, Amun and Nekhbet.

“The discovery of the Ramses II temple provides unique evidence on building and religious activities of the king in Memphis area and at the same time shows the permanent status of the cult of sun god Re who was venerated in Abusir since the 5th Dynasty and onwards to the New Kingdom,” Barta asserted.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

News: Roma to Promote Tourism to Egypt

CAIRO – An agreement has been signed between the Italian club AS Roma and an Egyptian tourism office in Italy for launching a promotional campaign for tourism in Egypt.

This campaign will be the sponsor of the match between Napoli and Roma played on Saturday, using the match as an excellent platform to internationally promote tourism to Egypt.

The Italian player of Egyptian origins, Stephan Sha'arawy, will be the featured model of this campaign, as he will hand out the awards to the winners, giving them the chance to travel to Sharm El-Sheikh, Luxor, Aswan, Marsa Alam and Marsa Matrouh.

The Italian promotional campaign is hanging banners all around the Italian stadium about the best Egyptian cities, presenting a promotional video about Egypt on the main four mega-screens in the stadium.

For more publicity, promotional campaigns will be broadcasted on Italian television channels, such as Sky Clacio, a channel that has more than 5 million subscribers, and also on the official Italian club’s television Roma TV.

Friday, October 13, 2017

New Discovery, Sakkara: Old Kingdom Pyramid Peak Discovered in Sakkara

A granite pyramid peak, probably belonging to Queen Ankhnespepy II, was unearthed in Sakkara. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Uncovered Pyramidion
A Swiss-French archaeological mission directed by Professor Philippe Collombert from the University of Geneva has unearthed a large granite pyramidion, or pyramid peak, probably belonging Queen Ankhnespepy II, in the Sakkara necropolis.

This is the second discovery in a week by the Swiss-French mission, according to the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri.

The team previously unearthed the largest obelisk fragment ever discovered from the Old Kingdom, measuring 2.5 meters tall. This week's discovery measures 1.3 metres high and 1.1 metres wide on its sides. Its upper part is partly destroyed, but shows that it had been covered by metal foil, either gold or copper.

“The surface of the pyramidion’s lower part is not clean, as if it had been reused, or better, as if it had been left unfinished,” Collombert pointed out, adding that the area under the pyramidion is clearly smooth, and also shows the usual carved recesses that permit its fixation of top of the pyramid.

“We think that it is the pyramidion of the satellite pyramid of Queen Ankhnespepy II, as it was found near the place where we should expect the satellite pyramid to have been located,” Collombert told Ahram Online. He asserted that this fragment comrpised the only part of this secondary pyramid yet to be found. The queen's main burial pyramid was discovered in Saqqara in 1998.

The Head of the Ancient Egyptian Sector at Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities, Ayman Ashmawy, said that the mission is progressing well this archaeological season, and that the new discovery suggests the team will soon locate the queen's complete funerary complex. Queen Ankhnespepy II (ca. 2288-2224 BC) was a 6th Dynasty consort of King Pepy I and the mother of King Pepy II.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

News, Luxor: Free Visit to Tutankhamun's Tomb, 17 October

To celebrate 200 years since the discovery of the King Seti I tomb, a free visit to King Tutankhamun's tomb will be available to Seti tomb visitors 17 October. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Ministry of Antiquities is offering visitors to King Seti I tomb in the Valley of the Kings on Luxor's west bank a free visit to the neighbouring King Tutankhamun's tomb.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the free visit would be only for one day, Wednesday, 17 October, for King Seti I visitors. He explains that the free visit to the Tutankhamun tomb comes within the framework of the ministry's celebration of the 200the anniversary of the discovery of the King Seti I tomb.

King Seti I ruled during the 19th Dynasty and his tomb is among the deepest and longest of all tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It is 100 metres long and was uncovered by Italian archaeologist Giovanni Belzoni in October 1817.

The tomb later became known as the "Apis tomb" because a mummified bull was unearthed in a side room off the burial chamber.

News, Giza: Tutankhamun's Second Bed Transferred to New Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza

The second ceremonial bed of King Tutankhamun was escorted on Monday from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, in preparation for its soft opening in mid-2018.

The bed was moved using a specially made hydraulic vehicle to prevent any vibrations that might cause damage, with a team of 20 archaeologists supervising the process, said Tarek Tawfik, the GEM's general supervisor.

The first gilded bed and a funeral chariot from Tutankhamun's tomb were transferred last May as part of a plan to move 1,000 artifacts to the GEM.

The Grand Egyptian Museum had been scheduled to open in 2015, but its construction has been delayed due to the expense involved, amounting to more than $1 billion.

Located at the foot of the Giza Pyramids, the GEM is not yet complete. However, when it finally opens it will display the collections of the current Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square, including many objects that are kept in storage.

The new complex is expected to host more than 100,000 relics, including 4,500 items of Tutankhamun treasure discovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Discovery, Cairo: The Lower Part of 26th Dynasty King Psamtik I Colossus Uncovered in Cairo's Matariya

The lower part of a statue of Psamtik I has been unearthed in Souk Al-Khamis area in Matariya district following earlier discoveries in March. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Egyptian-German Archaeological Mission uncovered most of the remaining parts of the recently discovered colossus of 26th Dynasty King Psamtik I (664-610 BC) while excavating at the temple of Heliopolis in the Souk Al-Khamis area of Matariya district in east Cairo.

Aymen Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department and leader of the Egyptian excavation team, told Ahram Online that the joint mission has unearthed around 1,920 separate quartzite blocks comprising the lower part of King Psamtik I colossus.

The mission is composed of archaeologists from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the Georg Steidorff Egyptian Museum at the University of Leipzig and the University for Applied Sciences, Mainz. 

"Early studies carried out on the newly found blocks of the colossus reveal that most comprise parts of the pharaoh's kilt, legs and three toes," Ashmawi pointed out. The studies also suggest that the buried colossus was constructed in a standing position, not a seated one, he stated.

The excavations were focused around the location in which the upper body of Psamtik's colossus had been found back in March 2017, according to Dietrich Raue, the head of the German archaeological team which participated in the mission. 

The statue's first part was found just to the north of its more recently uncovered lower part. Evidence suggests the sculpture had been destroyed at an uncertain date and its fragments scattered around a 20-meter diameter area.

Wider Discoveries

The team also uncovered numerous granite blocks that belong to other statues, including one of King Ramses II, the god Rahurakhti, and others yet unidentified. Ashmawy noted that the mission will continue to uncover more of the colossus' lower part during the next archaeological season. The coming find could reveal a total of 2,000 fragments and blocks.

Among the most prominent parts of the uncovered section, he said, is the back pillar engraved with the sacred Horus-name of Psamtik I, "a fact that confirm that the discovered colossus is that of King Psamtik I, and not King Ramses II as some suggested." Upon initial discovery, some archaeologists had believed that it may have belonged to King Ramses II, but the engravings on its back pillar dispelled that hypothesis.

The mission also found a gigantic fragment of the Eye of Horus which was likely a part of a larger statue of deity Rahurakhti. Ashmawy asserted that studies on the newly discovered eye fragment show that this statue could have been up to six meters tall, making it the tallest statue of the deity known from ancient Egypt.

Among the pieces of king Psamtik I's statue, Raue explained, the mission found a collection of red granite fragments of a King Ramses II statue engraved with his Horus name. Also found in the debris were fragments of a Late Period statue decorated with depictions of gods and demons in the style of the Horus-the-saviour stelae and statues. This kind of statue was commonly used in ancient Egyptian temples and believed to hold healing powers for ill individuals. At the northern edge of the area, Raue said, a poorly preserved eight-ton fragment was also extracted. Due to its deteriorated state, Egyptologists were not able to determine its exact dating or to whom it belongs.

Eissa Zidan, head of the restoration department at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), told Ahram Online that the newly discovered fragments of king Psamtik I's colossus were transported to the museum for cleaning, restoration and archaeological documentation. After a full study of the artifacts, Zidan noted, a plan will be devised to reconstruct the parts of the colossus and put it on display at the GEM.

The upper part of the colossus, which includes of the torso and a large part of the head and crown, is currently on display at the museological garden of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. Until its discovery last spring, it had sat under the water table in Souk Al-Khamis neighborhood, an area heavily congested with housing.

Al-Matariya was once Egypt's capital city, in which most Egyptian kings erected their monuments within its temples for about 2400 years. Because of the area's proximity to continued human settlement, the site was heavily destroyed in subsequent millenia, from Late Roman times onward to the Mameluk era and until today. Blocks of the area's ancient temples were re-used to build various monuments in Old Cairo, such as Bab el-Nasr and others.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

New Discovery, Saqqara: Archaeologists Unearth Largest-Ever Discovered Obelisk Fragment From Egypt’s Old Kingdom

Waziri and Collombert on Site
A Swiss-French archaeological mission at the Saqqara necropolis, directed by Professor Philippe Collombert from the University of Geneva, has unearthed the upper part of an Old Kingdom obelisk that belonged to Queen Ankhnespepy II, the mother of King Pepy II (6th Dynasty, Old Kingdom, around 2350 BC). Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Collombert said that the part of the obelisk that was unearthed is carved in red granite and is 2.5 metres tall; the largest fragment of an obelisk from the Old Kingdom yet discovered. “We can estimate that the full size of the obelisk was around five metres when it was intact,” he said. 

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the artefact was found at the eastern side of the queen’s pyramid and funerary complex, which confirms that it was removed from its original location at the entrance of her funerary temple.

“Queens of the 6th dynasty usually had two small obelisks at the entrance to their funerary temple, but this obelisk was found a little far from the entrance of the complex of Ankhnespepy II,” Waziri pointed out, suggesting it may have been dragged away by stonecutters from a later period. Most of the necropolis was used as a quarry during the New Kingdom and Late Period.

The Newly Discovered Obelisk 
Waziri said that the obelisk also bears an inscription on one side, with what seems to be the beginning of the titles and the name of Queen Ankhnespepy II. “She is probably the first queen to have pyramid texts inscribed into her pyramid,” Waziri said. He explains that before her, such inscriptions were only carved in kings' pyramids. After Ankhnespepy II, some wives of King Pepy II did the same.

Collombert says that at the top of the obelisk, there is a small deflection that indicates that the pyramidion (the tip) was covered with metal slabs, probably of copper or golden foil, to make the obelisk glint in the sun. The main goal of the mission, which was established in 1963 by Jean-Philippe Lauer and Jean Leclant, is to study the pyramid texts of the Old Kingdom.

Since 1987, the mission has also been excavating the necropolis of the queens buried in pyramids around the pyramid of Pepy I. This year, the mission is continuing work on the funerary complex of Queen Ankhnespepy II, the most important queen of the 6th dynasty.

Ankhnespepy II was married to Pepy I, and upon his death, she married Pepy I’s son, Merenre, from her sister Ankhnespepy I. Ankhnespepy II gave birth to the future King Pepy II. Merenre died when Pepy II was around six years old. Ankhnespepy II then became regent, and the effective ruler of the country, but did not go as far as to become pharaoh, as Hatshepsut did later on. “This is probably why her pyramid is the biggest of the necropolis after the pyramid of the king himself,” he said.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New Discovery, Aswan: Ancient Wall Markings of Wild Animals Uncovered in South Aswan

Pre-Dynastic wall markings have been uncovered in Subeira Valley near Aswan. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

During an archaeological survey in the desert of Subeira Valley, south Aswan, an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon pre-Dynastic rock markings.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the markings can be dated to the late pre-Dynastic era, and were found engraved on sandstone rocks. They depict scenes of troops of renowned animals at that time, such as hippopotamuses, wild bulls and donkeys, as well as gazelles. Markings showing workshops for the production of tools and instruments were also found on some of the rocks.

Nasr Salama, director general of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, described the newly discovered markings as "unique and rare" in Egypt. He pointed out that similar markings were previously uncovered at sites in Al-Qarta and Abu Tanqoura, north of Komombo town.

"These markings helped archaeologists to determine the exact dating of the newly discovered ones in Subeira Valley," Salama asserted. He added that 10 new sections of wall markings at around 15,000 years old had been discovered.

Adel Kelani described the discovery as important because it dates to the same period of markings founds in caves in southern France, Spain and Italy, which confirms the idea that art and civilisation during that time spread from Africa to Europe and not vice versa.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

News: Antiquities Ministry Launches Initiative Promoting Museums, Sites at Egyptian Hotels

The ministry is hoping to promote Egypt's archaeological sites and museums via adverts and brochures in hotels. Written B/ Nevine El-Aref.

The ministry of antiquities is launching a new initiative in collaboration with hotels to promote museums and archaeological sites.

Elham Salah, head of the ministry’s Museum Department, told Ahram Online that the initiative started this week at one of Egypt's hotels, where a large advertisement was placed in the lobby.

The banner shows photos of the Museum of Islamic Art’s collection, its opening hours and a map of some of the country's archaeological sites. A collection of brochures about the museum will also be put in every room of the hotel.

"If the initiative proves success it will be extended to all hotels around Egypt," Salah said.

Monday, October 2, 2017

News, Alexandria: Menasce Synagogue in Alexandria to Be Added to Egypt's Heritage List

The synagogue in El-Manshia Square was built by Baron Yacoub de Menasce in 1860. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

According to Mohammed Metwali, general director of antiquities in Alexandria, the synagogue was built by philanthropist Baron Yacoub de Menasce in 1860. The decision by the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ board of directors comes after inspection and investigation of the synagogue’s architectural and archaeological conditions.

Mohamed Abdel-Latif, a deputy minister of antiquities and head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Department within the ministry, told Ahram Online that the decision came within the framework of the ministry’s keenness to add all Egyptian monuments to the country’s heritage list, regardless of era or religious affiliation. “All the monuments, whether ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Coptic, Islamic, on Egyptian land are the country’s properties and unique heritage,” he said.

Abdel-Latif explained that the registration of the synagogue, which is located in El-Manshia Square, will make it an official historical site under the antiquities protection law, law no. 117 of 1983, and under its amendments in law no. 3 of 2010. This legislation guarantee the ministry’s full responsibility for and protection of the site.

The decision comes after the Permanent Committee of Islamic Antiquities reviewed the scientific reports submitted by the archaeological committee which inspected the synagogue and noted its good architectural condition. The rectangular-shaped building is surrounded by a stone wall with a decorative element.

The main façade of the synagogue has two rows of windows and the interior is divided into two sections. The floors are paved with ceramic tiles, while the ceilings have domed shapes. Menasce was the first of four Menasce men who headed the Alexandrian Jewish community.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Discovery, Minya: Gypsum Head of King Akhenaten Statue Unearthed in Egypt's Minya

A British-Egyptian archaeological mission from Cambridge University has discovered a gypsum head from a statue of King Akhenaton (around 1300 BC) during excavation work in Tel El-Amarna in Egypt’s Minya governorate. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The head – which is 9cm tall, 13.5 cm long and 8 cm wide – was unearthed during excavation work in the first hall of the Great Atun Temple in Tel El-Amarna, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri told Ahram Online.

Waziri says the discovery is important because it sheds more light on the city that was Egypt's capital during the reign of King Akhenaten, the 10th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty whose reign was among the most controversial in ancient Egyptian history.

The Cambridge University mission is led by archaeologist Barry Kemp, who started excavations in Tel El-Amarna in 1977 at several sites including the grand Aten Temple, the Al-Ahgar village, the northern palace, and the Re and Banehsi houses, according to director-general of Antiquities in Middle Egypt Gamal El-Semestawi.

The mission has also carried out restoration works at the Small Atun Temple and the northern palace.

Tel El-Amarna, which lies around 12 kilometers to the southwest of Minya city, holds the ruins of the city constructed by King Akhenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti to be the home of the cult of the sun god Aten. The ruins of this great city include magnificent temples, palaces and tombs.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

News: Thomas Cook - British Holidaymakers Are Returning to Egypt and Turkey.

Egypt and Turkey are attracting more British holiday bookings, as prices in destinations seen as safer continue to increase.
Both countries have seen a slump in visitor numbers due to a series of terror attacks, together with the closure to UK airlines of the main Egyptian resort airport, Sharm el Sheikh.

But Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook, said demand had picked up “as customers look for quality and value”. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Both destinations are wonderful countries, with great hotels, great beaches, nice people, and it’s really good value.

“People want to go back. We are not a security company; as long as we have the advice of the Foreign Office that we can fly to Egypt and Turkey, we offer a great product.” Many holidaymakers have switched from the eastern Mediterranean to destinations perceived as “safe”, notably Spain.

Sales to Spain were unchanged, with “a very competitive trading environment” — due to the sheer number of aircraft seats from the UK to Spanish airports. Average selling prices for seat-only tickets are down 3 per cent, while holiday prices overall have risen by 7 per cent. “Spanish hoteliers are taking advantage a bit of the increased demand, and prices went up because we have not enough beds for all the demand,” said Mr Fankhauser. He predicted “A 5 to 10 per cent price increase we’ll have for sure in Spain” for summer 2018.

Thomas Cook has faced criticism from some holidaymakers caught up in the extreme weather in the Caribbean and Florida earlier this month, in particular travellers who were in Cuba as Hurricane Irma approached and who say Thomas Cook was slow in responding. But Mr Fankhauser said: “I am proud of how fast we acted in the wake of Irma to support our customers, and offer them alternative destinations for their winter sun.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

INTERVIEW: Architect Mohamed Dessouki on The Desperate Need to Save Alexandria’s Parks.

It was back in 1922, upon writing his ‘Alexandria: a history and a guide,’ that E.M. Forster wrote that “if one would judge Alexandria by her gardens, one would have nothing but praise.” Written By/ Dina Ezat

Almost a century later, Mohamed Dessouki, a founding member of Save Alex, a pressure group dedicated to preserving the city’s heritage, fears that the country’s most prominent Mediterranean port city is facing a challenge in preserving its floral wealth as well as its architectural heritage.

“Public gardens have always been at the heart of city planning and life in general in Alexandria. Today, this concept is being seriously challenged, as we see a declining interest in preserving gardens, and certainly an attempt to attach parts of municipal gardens to clubs that only serve those affiliated to the power elite,” Dessouki, who is also the founder of the Walls of Alex blog, said in an interview with Ahram Online.

Dessouki says that many think of preserving Alexandria only in terms of a beautiful but highly eroded architectural history, but only a few give adequate attention to the botanical heritage of the city.

“This botanical history is by no means less significant than the architectural heritage of Alexandria. In Save Alex, as well as in the Walls of Alex, we voice concern about both issues among other things that relate to the beauty of this harbour city,” Dessouki said. Most recently, Dessouki has been campaigning to fight the declining awareness of the city’s botanical wealth.

In a series of lectures and articles, this preservation activist has been sharing information and pictures of the long history of four main public parks and gardens in the city; the municipal gardens (better known as elshalalat, or the waterfalls), El-Nozha (which holds both the zoo and Alzohour flower garden), Antoniadis and El-Montazah. These parks were planted and flourished mostly during the heyday of Alexandria in the second half of the 19th century.

Dessouki notes, however, that the beginning was actually during the reign of Mohamed Ali at the start of the 19th century, when the ambitious and visionary ruler of Egypt decided to dig the Mahmoudiya Canal, which brought the Nile water to Alexandria near the southern entrance to the city, which had been suffering growing neglect.

“It was this canal that helped give the city its many acres of exotic botanical wealth, and it has also held a special place in the hearts of those who lived in and loved the city,” Dessouki said.... READ MORE.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Short Story: Remembering A Pharaoh

The life of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II is being relived in a major exhibition in Milan, reports Nevine El-Aref.
It seems that the shadow cast over Italian-Egyptian relations is about to disappear. The ambassadors of both countries have returned, and the ancient Egyptians will be spending the autumn in Milan in “The Extraordinary Discovery of Pharaoh Amenhotep II” exhibition inaugurated last week at the city’s Museum of Cultures (MUDEC).

It tells the story of the 18th-Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep II, son of Thutmose III, the sovereign of a lavish court and heroic central figure in a rich historical period that historians have baptised a Golden Age.

A wonderful display of artifacts and photographs has been carefully selected from the most important ancient Egyptian collections in the world for the Milan exhibition. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has loaned nine pieces, and other source institutions include the Stichting Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the National Archaeological Museum in Florence, and the Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture in Rome. These museums and other private collections have loaned for the occasion statues, weapons, items from daily life at court, burial assemblages and mummies.

The exhibition also sees the collaboration of the University of Milan, which has loaned the original excavation documents for the Pharaoh’s tomb, as well as the collaboration of the Milan civic museums network, in particular the Castello Sforzesco Museum that has provided finds from its Egyptian collections while it is temporarily closed for renovation.

The exhibition poster featuring a beautifully carved marble bust of Amenhotep II can be seen everywhere on display in Milan, in the city’s streets, stations, shops and restaurants. The MUDEC where the exhibition is being held has been turned into an ancient Egyptian ceremonial arena for the occasion. To the music of harps, young men wearing golden nemes (ancient Egyptian head coverings) and silver kilts in the ancient Egyptian style with golden collars and belts greet exhibition visitors.

Further inside the exhibition, the atmosphere becomes more dramatic, providing an impressive setting for the granite, limestone, marble, wooden, golden and faience objects on display. All in all, visitors are taken into a truly epic experience to explore the life and history of Amenhotep II in a succession of poetic dramatisations as well as an audio-visual demonstration......  READ MORE.

Monday, September 25, 2017

News: Batch of Colossal Statues to Be Moved to Grand Egyptian Museum on Wednesday

The statues include a number of depictions of king Khafre, a bust of King Thutmose II wearing the nemes, a red granite statue of goddess Hathor and fragments of the sphinx's beard. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

A gathering of journalists and TV crews are scheduled to witness the arrival of a dozen colossal statues at the new Grand Egyptian Museum on Wednesday.

Tarek Tawfik, supervisor general, told Ahram Online that the statues are being transported from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir and include a unique collection of depicting the fourth dynasty king Khafre, a bust of King Thutmose II wearing the nemes, a red granite statue of goddess Hathor, a colossus head of king Userkaf and two large limestone fragments of the sphinx’s beard. The statues are to be displayed on the museum's Grand Staircase.

Eissa Zidan, general director of the first aid restoration department at the GEM, saaid that all the artefacts were subjected to restoration before packing and a detailed report on their conservation condition was written. The experts said that all necessary procedures have been taken to ensure the pieces are transported safely.

One technique used for the Hathor statue was an American method, they told Ahram Online, which involves fixing the artefact on a foam base and covering it in Japanese tissue paper. The museum on the Giza plateau is scheduled to open at some point in 2018.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

News, Cairo: Ottoman-Era Artifacts Seized at Cairo Airport to Go to Museum of Islamic Art

The pieces include Coptic textiles, a collection of headdresses decorated with Arabic calligraphy, and Ottomman-era manuscripts and medallions. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

On Wednesday the Museum of Islamic Art will receive a collection of Ottoman-era Egyptian artefacts that were seized early this week at Cairo International Airport.

The objects were in the possession of a passenger who was trying to smuggle them to Istanbul.

Upon confiscation, an archaeological committee led by Hamdi Hamam, the director-general of the antiquities unit at the centre, approved the authenticity of the objects.

The pieces include 34 Coptic textiles decorated with foliage ornamentation in a bad conservation condition, a collection of headdresses decorated with Arabic calligraphy, and three 18th and 19th century manuscripts.

A round Ottoman tapestry woven in red velvet is also among the seized collection, as is a collection of Ottoman medallions and manuscripts.

Mamdouh Osman, the museum director, said that the objects would be restored and put on special display at the museum.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

News: No Unauthorized Egyptian Artifacts at Louvre Abu Dhabi - Cairo

The Egyptian cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center has denied media reports that Egyptian pharaonic antiquities have been sold or smuggled to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Louvre museum, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel,
surrounded by sea water. The Louvre Abu Dhabi opens
its doors to the public on November 11, 2017
In an official statement on Tuesday, the IDSC said that the antiquities ministry has said that Egypt has not sent any antiquities to make a debut at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, set to be officially inaugurated in November.

Images have been circulating on social media showing a number of Emirati officials inspecting pharaonic antiquities inside the museum, raising speculation that Egypt had given up the items.

The ministry clarified that the antiquities pictured were from archaeological collections already in the Paris Louvre. The Paris branch of the museum currently includes about 50,000 pieces in its Egyptian collection, dating from 4,000 BC to the fourth century AD.

"Egypt has no right to interfere to stop the antiquities from being presented based on the law," the IDSC statement added, pointing that the acquisition of any antiquities by international museums was "legal."

"The antiquities were transferred outside the country legitimately before the issuing of a 1983 law that banned the trade in antiquities," the IDSC said, adding that prior to the passing of the law, countries that conducted excavations in Egypt had the right to have a share in the antiquities found. This is not the first series of denials by officials on the issue.

On Monday, the head of the Egyptian museums department at the antiquities ministry, Elham Saleh, denied the rumors that the Abu Dhabi items had been smuggled out of Egypt, calling on the media to ensure the accuracy of their reports.

Egypt has been making efforts to retrieve smuggled artifacts from foreign countries. It has called upon other countries to prevent illegal exchange, transfer, import or re-export of antiquities within their territories. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of a 2007 agreement between the UAE and France.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Short Story: Goldsmith’s Tomb Uncovered

The 18th Dynasty tomb of the goldsmith of the god Amun-Re has been uncovered in the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, reports Nevine El-Aref.

Despite the heat wave that hit Luxor on Saturday last week, hundreds of Egyptian, Arab and foreign journalists, the crews of TV channels and photographers, as well as foreign ambassadors to Egypt, flocked to the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on the west bank of the Nile to explore the newly discovered tomb of the goldsmith of the ancient Egyptian god Amun-Re.

Although the tomb belongs to a goldsmith, its funerary collection does not contain any gold. Instead, it houses a collection of stone and wood ushabti figurines of different types and sizes, mummies, painted and anthropoid wooden sarcophagi, and jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones.

“It is a very important discovery that sheds light on the necropolis’ history and promotes tourism to Egypt,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly. He added that although the tomb was not in a very good condition because it had been reused in a later period, its contents could yield clues to other discoveries.

“It contains a collection of 50 limestone funerary cones, 40 of which are evidence of the presence of four other official tombs,” El-Enany asserted.

He added that the discovery of the goldsmith’s tomb had come to light in April when the same Egyptian excavation mission had uncovered the tomb of Userhat, a New Kingdom city councillor. While removing the debris from the tomb, excavators had stumbled upon a hole at the end of one of the tomb’s chambers which had led them to another tomb.

“More excavations within the hole revealed a double statue of the goldsmith and his wife depicting his name and titles,” El-Enany said, adding that the find was significant because of the high number of artefacts found intact in the tomb.
In the courtyard of the tomb, he said, a Middle Kingdom burial shaft had been found with a family burial of a woman and her two children. “The work has not finished,” El-Enany said, adding that the excavation would continue in order to reveal more of the tomb’s secrets as another hole had been found within the burial shaft that could lead to another discovery.

“I believe that due to the evidence we have found we could uncover one, two, or maybe other tombs in this area if we are lucky,” El-Enany said.

Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr attended the ceremony as well as MPs, the Greek and Cypriot ambassadors to Egypt, the Chinese cultural attaché and the Swiss head of mission.

Mustafa Waziri, head of the excavation mission and director of Luxor antiquities, said that the tomb had got its number (Kampp 390) as German Egyptologist Frederica Kampp had registered the tomb’s entrance but had never excavated or entered it.

The tomb, he continued, belongs to a goldsmith named Amenemhat and could be dated to the second half of the 18th Dynasty. It includes an entrance located in the courtyard of another Middle Kingdom tomb numbered Kampp150. The entrance leads to a square chamber where a niche with a dual statue depicting the tomb’s owner and his wife is found.

The statue shows the goldsmith sitting on a high-backed chair beside his wife who wears a long dress and a wig. Between their legs stands a little figure of one of their sons.

The tomb has two burial shafts, a main one for the tomb’s owner and the second one located to the left of the tomb’s main chamber. The main shaft is seven metres deep and houses a collection of mummies, sarcophagi and funerary masks carved in wood along with a collection of ushabti figurines. The second shaft bears a collection of 21st and 22nd Dynasty sarcophagi which deteriorated during the Late Period.... READ MORE.

News, Cairo: Metro Station Police Foil Security Guard's Attempt to Steal Artifact from Coptic Museum

The museum worker had hidden the stolen piece under his clothes. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Police arrested a man today at Mar Girgis metro station in Old Cairo, on suspicion of stealing an artefact from the Coptic Museum, general-secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Amin, announced.

Amin told Ahram Online that the alleged criminal was a security guard at the museum, and during his shift he chopped off a wooden decorative element from a door panel from the church of St Barbara.

The man hid the stolen piece inside a plastic bag under his clothes and left the museum after finishing his shift.

The police arrested him at the metro station, which is a short walk away from the museum.

Elham Salah, head of the museum department within the antiquities ministry, told Ahram Online the case was sent to the general-prosecutor and the stolen item was now in police possession during investigations.

According to Coptic tradition, St. Barbara lived in the Levant during the third century AD, and who tortured and killed after she became a Christian.