CyberNews-07 (June 10, 2006)

Note: most of the categories below will contain reports from more than one source.  Readers should also be aware that only a few of the more important lines of the articles are presented here.  Please visit the actual sites for the full reports.

1)    Updating information on the KV 63 discoveries
2)    Argument for resisting repatriation of archaeological materials
3)     The Saint Louis mummy mask debate
4)     University of Tübingen voluntarily agreed to return relief fragments from the tomb of Seti I
5)    Will Germany allow Nefertiti to be loaned to Egypt?
6)    One of the 100 most influential people in the world
7)    New work in progress to change the appearance of Luxor Temple.    
8)    Major plans have also been announced for Karnak Temple
9)    New work recalibrates some dates in Mediterranean ancient cultures
10)    Firm progress announced for funding the new Egyptian museum
11)    Egyptian cleric issues a fatwah against ALL statues in Egypt…ancient or modern
12)    And in conclusion…Bosnian pyramids


1a)    This great story cannot be adequately followed here.  The very best advice is to regularly check the official excavation website ( where there are frequent updates and very interesting photographs.

1b)    KV 63: A Look at the New Tomb.  This article covers many of the current questions, such as:

    “Sealings from KV-63 have parallels from other tombs according to Ertman. A grouping of a crocodile, lion, and prisoner is also known from Tutankhamen's tomb (KV-62) and KV-55. A seated Osiris is also known from KV-62. Other seals from KV-63 bear the jackal and nine captives, the sign of the necropolis priests.

    “KV-63's shaft overhang, coffins, ceramics, and sealings all point to an 18th Dynasty date. Connections with material found in KV-46, 54, 55, and 62 suggest the later part of the dynasty. Ertman said the inscription on the shoulder of a ceramic vessel gives the regnal date "Year 5" but unfortunately lacks the pharaoh's name. (Another inscription, on the alabaster jar from the lower part of coffin A, reads "Amun-Re King of the Gods.") According to Ertman, the top of the shaft, just below the level of a cluster of foundations of 19th Dynasty workers' huts indicates KV-63 was sealed no later than the very beginning of that period.

    “We have seven coffins in all. It appears that four of the coffins are covered in black resin and the remaining three are "yellow-faced," which we believe to be female, although this might not actually be the case.


1c)    And of course, the golden small coffin.

    “When they first peered into one of the coffins, they found a layer of six pillows, all of which were almost perfectly preserved in the vacuum-packed tomb after more than 3,000 years. At least one of the pillows contained hieroglyphic markings reading, "life, stability, and power." But as the team carefully removed them, they noticed a much smaller coffin buried inside.  As lead archaeologist Otto Schaden picked it up, the light of a torch caught a glimmer of gold.

    “So what's inside the 42-centimeter gold-plated coffin? Nothing. It probably contained a "funerary figurine" which would represent a person in the afterlife if his or her body were destroyed, Schaden says, not an infant mummy. The gold coffin is one of the most dazzling artifacts that has been found in the Valley of the Kings since archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered the resting place of King Tutankhamen more than 80 years ago, Geffen says.”

USA Today

1d)    And is there really evidence for Tutankhamun’s widow?

    “The tomb in which the coffin was found is less than 50 feet from the tomb of King Tutankhamen, and archaeologists have discovered pottery and face masks inside that date to around the time of Tutankhamen.

    “Mansour Boraik, the head of antiquities in Egypt's Luxor region, hypothesized in front of Discovery cameras that the tomb might have belonged to the widow of King Tutankhamen. The archaeologists found a broken seal in the tomb with the faint inscription "PA-ATEN," which may have been the former name of the king's wife.”

USA Today


2)    Honor amongst thieves.  “Our museums may be full of stolen treasures, but as long as they're cared for, why give them back?”, asks a journalist.

    “These days, we are less and less comfortable about having the monuments of other countries in our museums. National sentiment often runs high in these matters. The Greek campaign to have the Parthenon marbles - previously the Elgin marbles - returned to be housed in a handsome new museum in Athens seems quite likely to succeed in the end. No one could doubt that they would be looked after very well.

    “But many important treasures, such as a hoard of Kushite gold jewelry, ended up in Berlin and London. There, they are well lit, beautifully labeled, carefully looked after, and accessible to whoever is interested. It is not easy to get into Sudan, and such objects act as small, precious ambassadors for an unfamiliar country.

    “It may be, too, that Lord Elgin acquired the Parthenon marbles in dubious circumstances. But even the marbles, for most of their modern history, gained authority and luster from the fact that they were on show not in a provincial capital such as Athens, but a world city: London. It is one of the paradoxes of culture that museums confer as much as acknowledge beauty. Strangely, one of the reasons people visit Athens - and will, in the end, visit Khartoum - is that a significant part of those cities' treasures is not there, but in London or Berlin. One ought to recognize that fact before too hastily handing anything over.”

Guardian Unlimited,,1759955,00.html


3a)    St. Louis Museum Won't Return Egypt Mask

    “The Saint Louis Art Museum will keep a 3,200-year-old mummy mask unless it gets more proof that it belongs to Egypt. The museum won't meet a May 15 deadline set by Egyptian antiquities authorities to return the mask, Museum Director Brent Benjamin said Friday. He noted that the Supreme Council of Antiquities never officially gave the museum a deadline.

    “Zahi Hawass said the mummy mask was probably stolen before it was obtained by the art museum in 1998.  "Nothing that we have seen to this date supports his claim," Benjamin said.

    “"Either provide us with the documentation," Benjamin said, or end the attacks on the museum.”  The museum bought the mask from an art dealer in the United States in 1998 for about $500,000, only after checking with authorities and the international Art Loss Register to see if the item was stolen. The museum also approved the purchase with the Egyptian Museum, Benjamin said.”

Washington Post

3b)    Art Museum won't return Egyptian mask

    “The Monday deadline set by an Egyptian antiquities official for the St. Louis Art Museum to return a mummy mask will pass without the museum returning the object.

    “In a letter dated Feb. 14, Hawass charged that the mask was illegally taken from a storage facility in the early 1990s and demanded that the process of returning it start within two weeks.  Hawass later changed his deadline for the mask’s return to Monday. But the museum maintains that it has not received any communication from him setting a date. Hawass has not replied to a Post-Dispatch request for comment made late Thursday.

    “Benjamin has said the museum exercised due diligence at the time of the acquisition to determine whether the mask had been legally exported from Egypt.  In today’s press conference, Benjamin said, "In all of this research, no authority ever identified this important work of art as missing, lost or stolen."

    “Hawass has not specified what action he would take if the Monday deadline were not met, but at a May 1 press meeting in Cairo, he told the Post-Dispatch that he would disparage the museum in the art world. "I will make their life hell," he said.”

St Louis Today

3c)    Zahi Hawass presents his case.

    “Officials with the museum are evaluating documents from the council that seek to prove that the mask from around 1307-1196 B.C., could have been stolen from an Egyptian Museum storage room.

    “"We don't feel like we've seen everything yet," Saint Louis Art Museum Director Brent Benjamin said. "It's premature to speculate what the outcome will be. We are looking at documentation and we are still awaiting other materials from Egypt."

    “Zahi Hawass said he has grown impatient with the St. Louis museum and will turn the matter over to law enforcement or the legal system if the museum does not act soon. "I have sent them all the proof they need," Hawass said. "I don't understand why they insist on fighting this."

    “Hawass said under no circumstances could the mask have reached the United States legally because it belonged to the Egyptian Museum and there is no indication that the museum ever sold it.”


3d)    Museum refuses to return mummy mask

    “Hawass gave the museum some documentation, including a register that recorded the burial mask of Ka Nefer Nefer being sent to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, in 1959.  Hawass has been critical of the museum for not returning the mask and has threatened to turn the dispute over to authorities. He also has threatened to tarnish the museum's reputation.

    “The museum bought the mask from an art dealer in the United States in 1998 for about $500,000, only after checking with authorities and the international Art Loss Register to see if the item was stolen. The museum also approved the purchase with the Egyptian Museum, Benjamin said.  The museum has a money-back guarantee with the dealer, if the mask has to be returned to Egypt.”

The Mercury News

3e)    U.S. museum rejects deadline for returning mummy mask to Egypt

    “The St. Louis Art Museum has refused to meet a Monday deadline for returning a mummy mask to Egypt.  (Museum director) Brent Benjamin has said the museum independently verified the mask's known provenance, or history of ownership; that it contacted the Art Loss Register and Interpol to see if the mask had been reported missing, lost or stolen; and it consulted with Mohammed Saleh, then director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, to ensure that the pending purchase was appropriate. "In all of this research, no authority ever identified this important work of art as missing, lost or stolen," he said.

    “Hawass is expected to visit Chicago in the next two weeks when the "King Tut" exhibition opens there. Should he take a side-trip to St. Louis, Benjamin said, "Dr. Hawass is always welcome at the St. Louis Art Museum."”

Kansas City Star

3f)    And the battle remains heated.

    “(Museum director) Benjamin said yesterday the museum considers Hawass’ allegations to be very serious, "but it seems that drama has gotten in the way of the facts."  He reiterated that "the Saint Louis Art Museum would reconsider its rightful ownership of the mask if valid documentation surfaces refuting our proper ownership."

    “Hawass has a reputation as colorful and entertaining. ARTnews said admirers find him charming and enthusiastic; detractors see him as autocratic, egotistical, vindictive and publicity-hungry. ARTnews noted that Hawass proclaimed, "I am Pharaoh!" upon entering a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where the exhibition "Hatshepsut" was on view.”

Columbia Daily Tribune


4a)    “The University of Tübingen in Germany, under the leadership of Dr. Christian Leitz, has voluntarily agreed to return to Egypt five relief fragments of the royal tomb of the 19th dynasty pharaoh Seti I. Culture minister Farouk Hosni announced today.  He added that these fragments will be handed over to Egypt next month (June) and it is one of the most beautiful fragments that once decorated the walls of Seti I tomb's which was subjected to mutual thefts along the last century when early travelers to Egypt hacked pieces out of the walls and now are in collections around the world.

    “The tomb of Seti I, once the most heavily visited tomb in the Valley, is currently closed to the public, to protect it from the hazards of unchecked tourism. As part of a conservation and restoration project, the SCA is attempting to collect as many of the scattered pieces of relief from the tomb as possible, so that they can be restored to their proper places. Tübingen’s generous decision is received with gratitude by the SCA.”


4b)    A very similar article.

    “The university made its decision "voluntarily" and agreed to return the artifacts "without any conditions," said Zahi Hawass. The fragments are to be restored to their original resting place at the tomb, which is currently closed to the public because of the damage.

    “Many artifacts removed from the site, sometimes referred to as Belzoni's tomb, are currently on display in museums around the world, including a sarcophagus in the Sir John Soane Museum in London.

    “Egypt has warned it will end cooperation with foreign museums and institutions that buy stolen artifacts.”

Yahoo news


5a)    Will Germany allow Nefertiti to be loaned to Egypt?

Descendant of the Pharaohs  

    “Hawass says that Berlin’s bust of Nefertiti “should be in the motherland,” and is mounting a campaign to repatriate artistic icons from museums around the world.  In a recent interview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Hawass told ARTnews that he plans to ask UNESCO to support his demand. He does not charge that the five objects he is asking for were looted. He calls them “icons of our Egyptian identity”—unique artifacts of Egyptian cultural patrimony. “They should be in the motherland,” Hawass insists. “They should not be outside Egypt.”

    “Hawass’s list of national icons starts with the Nefertiti bust in Berlin and the Rosetta stone (ca. 200 BC.) in the British Museum in London. Both of these objects left Egypt a long time ago, the Rosetta stone in the 1820s and the Nefertiti bust in 1912. From the Louvre, Hawass wants the Dendera zodiac (50 BC a map of the heavens that was sawed and blasted out of the ceiling of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera by the agent of a French collector in 1821. By modern standards the Rosetta stone and the zodiac were looted, although the term wouldn’t have made sense to the French and British agents who swarmed over Egypt in the early 19th century in a competitive quest for treasure—nor to most Egyptians.

    “Hawass is also encouraging other countries to demand the repatriation of their own national icons. He is planning a conference in Cairo next year of nations that have lost artifacts of their heritage, including, he says, “China, Greece, Italy, Syria, Jordan, Mexico, Sudan.

    “The mask is only one of thousands of objects Hawass is after. He seeks “anything stolen from Egypt after 1972,” when the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property went into effect, and every piece recorded in a site register book, even if it was stolen before 1972.”


5b)    And the argument from the view of an Egyptian writer.

    “Hawass asked the German government to offer the famous bust to Egypt on a three-month loan so that it could go on show at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the German Archeological Institute in Egypt in November 2006.  In return, Hawass pledged that the SCA would offer another statue on loan to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin for the three months while Nefertiti was in Egypt.

    “Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly that the SCA was willing to provide the Germans with all the guarantees required to assure the return of the bust after the completion of the exhibition. "However that would not affect or contravene Egypt's request to repossess this key item of the country's cultural heritage which it had been deprived of for almost a century," Hawass insisted.

    “In response to Hawass's statement, the Berlin Museum director told reporters that Queen Nefertiti did not wish to leave Germany, and all legitimate international agreements admitted Germany's legal possession of the bust.

    “Hawass told the Weekly that if the SCA officially demanded the return of the bust and the Berlin Museum refused to hand it back to Egypt, "all scientific ties between the SCA and the museum will be cut off and Egypt will prohibit the establishment of any future exhibitions to be held in Berlin Museum."”

Al-Ahram Weekly Online


6a)    Zahi Hawass has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world!  The article below has a list of all the nominees, but read on…

    “TIME Magazine unveiled its annual list of the most influential people in the world over the past year - the TIME 100. The list profiles the lives and ideas of the world's most influential people and is split into five categories: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Builders & Titans, Artists & Entertainers, Heroes & Icons, and Scientists & Thinkers."”

CNW Group Ltd.

6b)    A lengthy discussion of this new honor can be seen in an Al-Ahram piece.

    “Zahi Hawass has been selected by Time magazine as one of the world's most influential people.  Described by Time as "The Guardian of Egypt's Antiquities" and "The perfect image of a modern-day archeologists with his jeans and trademark Indian Jones hat" Hawass has to be -- and is -- a master of multi-tasking. He tours the world lecturing, making TV appearances and churning out a steady stream of books and articles. He has been described as theatrical, passionate about Egypt and archeology, as well as controversial. He makes news by demanding the return of artifacts stolen and smuggled out of Egypt and his recent edicts restricting new excavations, particularly in such popular sites as Saqqara and the Valley of the Kings, have aroused the ire of some foreign archaeologists.

    “"Yet those regulations as well as his focus on conservation may be Hawass' most lasting legacy," Time wrote. "There are already too many monuments in danger of destruction, both by natural forces and by the tourism on which Egypt's economy largely depends -- and which Hawass has done so much to encourage."”

Al-Ahram Weekly Online


7)    New work in progress to change the appearance of Luxor Temple.

    “Dr. Samir Farag, president of the Supreme Council of Luxor, has big plans for his city and the wealth of antiquities there. One plan is to restore the road connecting Luxor and Karnak. Stretching over three kilometers, the planned road would cut a 60- to 70-meter-wide swath right through a largely residential area of modern Luxor.

    “The plan to turn the city of Luxor into what Farag refers to as “a living museum” is broken down into phases. He has declared phase one — which consisted largely of planning — complete and says they will commence work on phase two shortly. Phase two includes, among other things, starting to evacuate residents and businesses living and working on the old temple road.

    ““Everyone who has to be moved will get a free apartment, even those who are only renting,” Farag says. The apartments will be in a new city which will be built right outside Luxor. “Not too far outside,” he assures. While phase two is ready to move ahead, the plans to build the new city were only formally proposed a couple of weeks ago. It’s an open question when ground might break on the new city, a fact that has left many residents worried about where they may be living in the coming years.”

Egypt Today


8)    Karnak facelift approved…and rumors put to rest

    “Rumors of the environmental disaster that would be wreaked by the Karnak Development Project, approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and Luxor City Council (LCC), began to circulate early in May. The project would, said its detractors, destroy the context of Karnak Temple, and in its attempts to prevent further encroachment had opted for cosmetic solutions. A two-meters wide concrete wall to be built around the temple, violating archaeological layers and creating a ring over the remains of five temples from the time of Akhenaton, almost dividing them in two areas, came in for special criticism, as did uprooting trees planted on the temple's northern side.

    “It was also reported that both the SCA and LCC had agreed that a marina be established, and that a 129 000-square-metre space between the temple and the Nile Bank be cleared, involving the demolition of bazaars, residential houses, the French mission's dig house and the wooden house built for French Egyptologist George Legrain.

    “In responding to the report Francesco Bandarin, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, wrote to Zahi Hawass, suggesting alternative solutions be sought, and threatening to remove Karnak Temple from the World Heritage List should the project go ahead as planned.

    “Hawass said Bandarin had based his conclusions on conjecture and gossip, and forwarded a detailed report on the planned project, the aim of which is to curtail infringements on the archaeological site and clear a site for the excavation of the ancient harbor and canal that once connected the temple to the Nile.”

Al-Ahram Weekly Online


9a)    New work recalibrates some dates in Mediterranean ancient cultures.  A series of announcements in Science Magazine sparked numerous articles discussing the significance of the new dates.

    The first paper here is the main announcement.  You will need to consult the actual magazine or have a subscription to Science to read the entire paper.

    The paper is “Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700-1400 B.C., Sturt W. Manning, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Walter Kutschera, Thomas Higham, Bernd Kromer, Peter Steier, Eva M. Wild”

    The abstract states “Radiocarbon (carbon-14) data from the Aegean Bronze Age 1700–1400 B.C. show that the Santorini (Thera) eruption must have occurred in the late 17th century B.C. By using carbon-14 dates from the surrounding region, cultural phases, and Bayesian statistical analysis, we established a chronology for the initial Aegean Late Bronze Age cultural phases (Late Minoan IA, IB, and II). This chronology contrasts with conventional archaeological dates and cultural synthesis: stretching out the Late Minoan IA, IB, and II phases by ~100 years and requiring reassessment of standard interpretations of associations between the Egyptian and Near Eastern historical dates and phases and those in the Aegean and Cyprus in the mid–second millennium B.C.”

Science Magazine

9b)    The second paper appeared at the same time.  You will need to consult the actual magazine or have a subscription to Science to read the entire paper.

    The paper is “Santorini Eruption Radiocarbon Dated to 1627-1600 B.C., Walter L. Friedrich, Bernd Kromer, Michael Friedrich, Jan Heinemeier, Tom Pfeiffer, Sahra Talamo”

    The abstract states “Precise and direct dating of the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera) in Greece, a global Bronze Age time marker, has been made possible by the unique find of an olive tree, buried alive in life position by the tephra (pumice and ashes) on Santorini. We applied so-called radiocarbon wiggle-matching to a carbon-14 sequence of tree-ring segments to constrain the eruption date to the range 1627-1600 B.C. with 95.4% probability. Our result is in the range of previous, less precise, and less direct results of several scientific dating methods, but it is a century earlier than the date derived from traditional Egyptian chronologies.”

    The paper further states “Our wiggle-matched sequence adds to the already strong evidence of an eruption date in the late 17th century B.C. It is the first accurately (close to annually) defined sequence based on an object buried alive by the eruption. A date around 1520 B.C. or later, as assumed by some archaeologists working with Egyptian contexts, is not consistent, even within 3{sigma} (99.7% confidence), with our result, which consequently suggests a flaw in either their linkage of the Aegean to the Egyptian chronology or in the chronology itself for the relevant time range.”

Science Magazine

9c)    Of the commentaries that appeared, the following example is most informative.  

    “The findings, which place the Santorini eruption in the late 17th century B.C., not 100 years later as long believed, may lead to a critical rewriting of Late Bronze Age history of Mediterranean civilizations that flourished about 3,600 years ago, Manning said. Manning and colleagues analyzed 127 radiocarbon measurements from short-lived samples, including tree-ring fractions and harvested seeds that were collected in Santorini, Crete, Rhodes and Turkey. Those analyses, coupled with a complex statistical analysis, allowed Manning to assign precise calendar dates to the cultural phases in the Late Bronze Age.

    “"At the moment, the radiocarbon method is the only direct way of dating the eruption and the associated archaeology," said Manning, who puts Santorini's eruption in or just after the range 1660 to 1613 B.C. This date contradicts conventional estimates that linked Aegean styles in trade goods found in Egypt and the Near East to Egyptian inscriptions and records, which have long placed the event at around 1500 B.C.

    “To resolve the discrepancy, Manning suggests realigning the Aegean and Egyptian chronologies for the period 1700-1400 B.C. Parts of the existing archaeological chronology are strong and parts are weak, Manning noted, and the radiocarbon now calls for "a critical rethinking of hypotheses that have stood for nearly a century in the mid second millennium B.C."”

Cornell University

9d)    Another reporting Science magazine was less impressed about the potential impact on Egyptology.

    “"I am not impressed," says Egyptologist Manfred Bietak of the University of Vienna in Austria, who prefers to rely on detailed Egyptian records for the same period. Manning and colleagues used a new radiocarbon calibration curve (described last year in the journal Radiocarbon) as well as sophisticated statistical models and cross-checked some samples among three different dating labs. They dated the eruption to between 1660 and 1613 B.C.E., within 95% confidence intervals.

    “Manning and colleagues say the early dates suggest that the conventional linkage between Minoan and Egyptian chronologies, which puts the apex of Minoan civilization contemporaneous with Egypt's 16th century B.C.E. New Kingdom, is wrong. The New Kingdom, especially during the rule of Pharaoh Ahmose, was the high point of Egyptian power. Rather, the Minoans would have reached their own heights during the earlier Hyksos period, when the Nile delta was ruled by kings whose ancestors came from the Levant. Rutter says Egyptologists have tended to discount the importance of the Hyksos, whom Ahmose eventually chased out of Egypt: "The Hyksos have gotten lousy press."  At the very least, Manning says, "it would make the Hyksos world much more important and interesting." Manning adds that the earlier chronology would create "a different context for the genesis of Western civilization."

    “But many proponents of the later chronology are sticking to their guns. The radiocarbon dates create "an offshoot from the historical Egyptian chronology of 120 to 150 years," says Bietak. "Until the reasons for this offshoot are solved, we are chewing away at the same old cud."

    “"There are no current grounds for thinking that the Egyptian historical chronology could be out by more than a few years," says archaeologist Peter Warren of the University of Bristol, U.K. "This chronology has been constructed by hundreds of expert Egyptologists over many decades."”

Science Magazine

9e)    And one more…

    “Imagine that the chronology of early American history was off by 100 years, and it was really 1392 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Scholars have long argued over the possibility of a time discrepancy of similar magnitude for a crucial period in the Late Bronze Age of Greece and the Aegean world.  Scientists now report new radiocarbon evidence to support the contention that the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean began in the 17th century B.C., at least a century before the date previously assumed by many scholars. The radiocarbon samples showed that the age extended from about 1700 B.C. to 1400 B.C.

    “Until recent years, archaeologists generally dated the eruption at around 1500 B.C. This was estimated mainly by comparing the pottery, art and other artifacts of the Aegean region with cultural goods in Egypt and Mesopotamia, which more firmly dated chronologies. The revised radiocarbon chronology, if it stands, would mean that the Minoans at their height were not contemporaries of Egypt’s expansive New Kingdom of the 16th century B.C.  

    “Early indications suggest that proponents of the later chronology are not backing down. Their main line of defense is the Egyptian historical chronology, derived from its written records as well as pottery and iconography. They insist that a chronology tied to the Egyptian record could not be off by as much as 100 years.”

Columbus Dispatch


10a)    Firm progress announced for funding the new Egyptian museum.

    “Egypt and Japan signed a cooperation protocol to build the planned Grand Egyptian Museum. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Fayza Abul-Naga, minister of international cooperation, gathered at the palace's Mashrabiya terrace along with scores of Egyptian ministers, government officials and the Japanese ambassador to Egypt to exchange notes on a long-term loan offered by the Japanese government to help in the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). The loan provides $300 million of a total approximate budget projected at $550 million.

    “"According to such an agreement, Japan has granted Egypt 70 per cent of the whole sum," she pointed out, adding that through the last three decades Japan has been a strong supporter of Egypt's development projects. At the end of her speech Abul-Naga expressed her appreciation to the Japanese government for its support to help Egypt built such an important museum, which has been described internationally as "the project of the millennium".

    “Abdel-Salam pointed out that they aim at collecting $150 million in order to supply the GEM with the state-of-the-art equipment needed. He also stressed that the loan offered is the biggest loan that Japan has offered to Egypt, or to any other country in the Middle East.”

Al-Ahram Weekly Online

10b)    And a second announcement added…

     “Japan will extend up to $307.7 million in loans to Egypt to help rebuild the Egyptian Museum. The loans will cover nearly half of the total rebuilding costs of $617.09 million.  The plan is to rebuild the museum, which opened in 1902, to a new museum called Grand Egyptian Museum, with about 100,000 items on display.”



11a)    An Egyptian cleric has issued a fatwah against ALL statues in Egypt…ancient or modern, urging their destruction.  The first article below discusses the first announcement, while others review reaction of Egyptian and foreign writers.

     “A fatwa issued by Egypt's top religious authority that forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing that it could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt's historical heritage. Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country's top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict that declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet). The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work. Still, many fear that the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt's thousands of ancient and Pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.

    “"We don't rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other Pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa," Gamal Al Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar Al Adab magazine, said.

    “Gomaa's ruling overturned a fatwa issued more than 100 years ago by then moderate and highly respected mufti Mohammed Abdu, permitting the private display of statues after the practice had been condemned as a pagan custom. The wave of criticisms against the fatwa has put clerics on a collision course with intellectuals and artists, who say that such edicts only reinforce claims - particularly in the West - that Islam is against progress.  Some, including Sayed, compared Gomaa's edict to a similar one issued by the former fundamentalist rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban, which led to the destruction of statues of the Buddha despite an international outcry.”

Middle East Times

11b)    And another…

    “The highest religious authority among Egyptian Muslims, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, has issued a fatwa banning the display of statues. Although the fatwa focuses on statues in private homes, it has raised fears that it mat be misused by Islamists wanting to harm Egypt's wealth of pre-Islamic art on historic sites and in museums. Sculptors and their work are generally condemned.  His newest fatwa however has caused shock and outrage among most intellectual Egyptians. Mr. Gomaa referred to a passage from the Hadith - a collection of quotes from Prophet Mohammed - saying that sculptors would be treated harshly on Judgment Day. The Hadith thus clearly had declared the production and exposure of sculpture as sinful, the Grand Mufti deducted.

    “While the fatwa does not directly address sculptures in museums and at historic sites - Egypt has one of the world's highest densities of historic sculptures seen as a world heritage - it has caused fears that fundamentalists may take the fatwa to its extremes and attack historic sculptures. Similar events took place in Afghanistan a few years ago, when the Taliban regime destroyed the ancient Buddha sculptures at Bamyan, a protected World Heritage site.

    “Egyptian authorities however are not likely to take the Grand Mufta's fatwa seriously or include it in national legislation. Several fatwas of the Muslim scholar and his predecessors have been ignored as erroneous by the widely secular government. Egypt's historic sculptures and modern artwork contribute greatly to the national economy due to tourism and historic sites and museums count on armed state security.  Other prominent Egyptian artists and cultural workers just urged the public to ignore the "ridiculous" fatwa.”


11c)    The Christian Science Monitor reviewed the effect of the Fatwah against Egypt art

    “Artists and intellectuals here say the edict, whose ban on producing and displaying sculptures overturns a century-old fatwa, runs counter to Islam.

    “But most fatwas are simply the opinions of respected Muslim scholars, often on everyday matters. Hundreds, if not thousands, of fatwas are issued in Muslim countries every day, covering topics that range from the mundane to the deadly serious. They can address questions such as "Is it a religious obligation to see in-laws with whom you don't get along?" as well as "Is it a Muslim obligation to fight foreign invaders?"

    “Egypt is dotted with millennia worth of Pharaonic antiquities. Mohsen Said, of the country's Supreme Council for Antiquities, says, "We display statues so they can be studied and so people can get to know their heritage. This is Egypt's national heritage. We don't display them for worship."”

Christian Science monitor


    A number of more or less silly reports have come from Bosnia claiming that huge pyramids dot the skyline…and that they are constructed of carefully placed masonry.  The author of all this is an amateur ‘archaeologist’, and few people have taken him seriously.  Read the short extracts of a few reports below and see what you think.

12a)    Bosnian Pyramids: Great Discovery or Colossal Hoax?

    “It's either one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of our time, or man has made a giant pyramid out of a molehill.  Some critics have gone as far as to call the pyramid an absurd publicity stunt.

    “"They are jealous," Osmanagic told LiveScience in a telephone interview. "These people are going crazy because they've been teaching students that these [Bosnians] were cavemen, and all of a sudden they are finding complex structures here."  Osmanagic first noticed the irregularly shaped hills on a trip to the town, located 18 miles north of Sarajevo, in April of 2005. Preliminary digging uncovered mysterious slabs in a stone not native to the immediate area. Further excavation of the hills in April of this year, along with the incredible announcement that one would be much larger than the great pyramid of Cheops at Giza, Egypt, prompted the most recent news release. The pyramids could be upwards of 12,000 years old, Osmanagic has deduced, based on geological knowledge of the area.

    “"A self-described archaeologist, who believes the Maya and others are descended from Atlanteans ... has been accepted as a legitimate researcher by many news outlets," writes Archaeology magazine online editor Mark Rose, in reference to Osmanagic's somewhat unorthodox interpretation of the Mayan culture found in his book, "The World of the Maya" (Gorgias Press, Euphrates imprint, 2005). The Bosnian spent fifteen years studying pyramids throughout the world and much of that time was in Mexico and Central America.”

Yahoo News

12b)    Pyramid in Bosnia, Huge Hoax or Colossal Find?

    “"I am 100 percent sure. There is no other option," the Houston, Texas-based Osmanagic said.  Last month Osmanagic and his team began sinking a series of wells into the 700-foot-tall (213-meter-tall) hill, which Osmanagic renamed the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun. The kick-off was observed by a clutch of onlookers, journalists, and—in what may be a first for such endeavors—contestants from the Miss Bosnia beauty pageant.

    “In response, the executive editor of New York-based Archaeology magazine, Mark Rose, blasted Osmanagic as a quack and the press as gullible. To emphasize his case, Rose quoted from online excerpts of a 2005 book by Osmanagic about the Maya. Passages from the book suggest the Maya descended from the people of the mythical city of Atlantis, who themselves are aliens who came to Earth from the Pleiades star cluster.

    “"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," said Curtis Runnels, an archaeologist at Boston University in Massachusetts and a Balkan prehistory expert.  "It is not up to professional archaeologists to explain 200 years of research and evidence," Runnels said. "It is up to Mr. Osmanagic to prove his claims."”

National Geographic

12c)    And an Egyptian geologist came forward to agree with the pyramid theory.

    “Dr Aly Abd Alla Barakata, a geologist of the Egyptian Mineral Resource Authority, is the first expert from Egypt who came to find out whether the blocks excavated on the Visocica hill are natural or a man made formations. He said he concluded that the structure is not natural and will recommend Egyptian archeologists to research it further.

    “"My opinion is that this is a type of pyramid, probably a primitive pyramid," said Dr. Aly Abd Alla Barakata, a geologist from the Egyptian Mineral Resource Authority.

    “Osmanagic's theory has been disputed by a number of experts who claim that at no time in Bosnia's history has there been a civilization able to build monumental structures and that the hill is simply a weird natural formation. A petition signed by 22 Bosnian experts pointed out that Osmanagic is an amateur and claimed that the stone blocks he unearthed are part of a medieval graveyard.”

ABC News

12d)    Mark Rose, executive and online editor of ARCHAEOLOGY took the theory to task in a lengthy paper.

    “Semir (Sam) Osmanagic, a Houston-based Bosnian-American contractor first saw the hills he believes to be pyramids last spring. He is now digging the largest of them and plans to continue the work through November, promoting it as the largest archaeological project underway in Europe. He claims it is one of five pyramids in the area (along with what he calls the pyramids of the Moon, Earth, and Dragon, plus another that hasn't been named in any account I've seen). These, he says, resemble the 1,800-year-old pyramids at Teotihuacan, just north of Mexico City. Osmanagic maintains that the largest is bigger than the pyramid of Khufu at Giza, and that the Bosnian pyramids date to 12,000 B.C.

    “Construction of massive pyramids in Bosnia at that period is not believable. Curtis Runnels, a specialist in the prehistory of Greece and the Balkans at Boston University, notes that "Between 27,000 and 12,000 years ago, the Balkans were locked in the last Glacial maximum, a period of very cold and dry climate with glaciers in some of the mountain ranges. The only occupants were Upper Paleolithic hunters and gatherers who left behind open-air camp sites and traces of occupation in caves. These remains consist of simple stone tools, hearths, and remains of animals and plants that were consumed for food. These people did not have the tools or skills to engage in the construction of monumental architecture."

    “Others fear that Osmanagic's excavations will damage real sites (the hill he calls the "Pyramid of the Sun" is said to have medieval, Roman, and Illyrian remains on it). In one of the few critical accounts of the Bosnian pyramid story, which appeared in the Art Newspaper, the University of Sarejevo's Enver Imamovic, a former director of the National Museum in Sarajevo, is quoted as saying, "This is the equivalent of letting me, an archaeologist, perform surgery in hospitals."”

Archaeology Magazine

12e)    And the last word (for now, anyway) is given to a British archaeologist who recently visited the site and made a report.

    “Professor Anthony Harding, president of the European Association of Archaeologists, visited Visocica hill and said the formation was natural. "No evidence at all has been found" to support the claim the site would be an archaeological site, he said.

    “Harding, who said he visited the site briefly on Thursday and looked at the same stone blocks Barakat said were man made, said on Friday they were a natural formation.

    “"I've seen the site, in my opinion it is entirely natural," he told reporters in Sarajevo. Harding did not visit other sites in the area which Osmanagic and Barakat say are further evidence of the existence of pyramids in Bosnia, such as a tunnel leading to the top of Visocica or a stone pavement made of geometrically regular shaped pieces.”

Yahoo News