News and gossip October 2001-March 2002

31 March 2002 Death of Mind-It?

It would appear that the free Mind-It service for telling users when web pages change is no longer available. If anyone knows of something which would replace it, can they contact me?

16 March 2002: Japanese propose to brew Egyptian beer

Kirin Brewery Co. has embarked on a project to re-create the fermented brew enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians that is believed to be the origin of modern-day beer. The brewery has joined hands with Waseda University professor and Egyptologist Sakuji Yoshimura to prove a new hypothesis regarding how the ancient Egyptians made their beverage. According to Kirin researchers, it has long been the accepted theory that the Egyptians produced beer by baking bread from barley, breaking it into pieces, adding water and allowing the mix to ferment naturally with the aid of yeast in the air. However, Kirin said that its researchers have come up with a theory that the bread was only partially baked, and that the Egyptians added yeast, possibly from such plants as date palms. With the aid of Yoshimura and his team of Egyptologists, an attempt will be made to prove this notion, company officials said. An oven-maker has been invited from Egypt to build a kiln to bake bread specifically for the project. The brewery and researchers plan to start baking bread later this month and produce Old Kingdom Beer at its plant in the town of Takanezawa, Tochigi Prefecture, by September, the company said. According to Kirin, no hops will be used to make the Egyptian-style beer, because the Egyptians did not use them.

The Japan Times: Feb. 21, 2002 [Cyberscribe].

[Note from Nigel Strudwick: I should point out that this is not the first such attempt to do this commercially, which as far as I know was done by Scottish and Newcastle in the UK following research by Delwen Samuel on material from Amarna.]

16 March 2002: Tell Basta

A Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) mission unearthed in Tal Basta some mud-brick stores over an area of 2,000 metres that date back to the Graeco-Roman era during restoration of a palace of King Amenemhat III. The mud-brick palace of Amnemhat III, unearthed in 1962, is currently undergoing restoration and maintenance at a cost of LE 2 million. The palace has a number of halls, chambers and columns, plaques depicting celebrations for the godess Bastet of Tell Basta and statues of Amenemhat and his ministers.

Egyptian State Information Service [Cyberscribe].

16 March 2002: Roman temple in Aswan

A Swiss mission has recently unearthed a Roman temple in the heart of the old city of Aswan, after a year long excavation project. The team removed dust and debris surrounding the temple and so discovered the main entrance to the temple which proved to be in a direction different from other previously discovered Roman temples. The Swiss team is now engaged on a new site also in Aswan in the vicinity of Isis Temple. Ali Al Asfar, Director of Aswan and Nubian Antiquities, said that the Isis temple had been restored and was having been prepared for receiving tourists within the current season. The temple which dates back to the Ptolemaic age was established by Ptolemy III and completed by Ptolemy IV.

Egyptian State Information Service [Cyberscribe]

16 March 2002: NY dealer found guilty (further)

Cyberscribe sends in another URL which gives perhaps the fullest account of the Schulz trial and the complex background. This is from the Times:,,7-208753,00.html


16 March 2002: New email list

Dr. M. Peyro, University of Sevilla, Spain send this information:

We have just started an electronic list about the ancient cultures of Nubia and Kush; the name is "Meroe : Meroitic Studies", and can be found at:

To subscribe to Meroe send a blank email to


13 February 2002: NY dealer found guilty

Cyberscribe sends in various URLs relating to an important story. A court in New York has convicted antiquities dealer Fred Schulz of conspiring with an antiquities smuggler to receive and possess a series of rare Egyptian artefacts smuggled into the country. This story is too long to relate here, but the person with whom he was accused of conspiring was none other than Jonathan Tokely-Parry, who was convicted in the UK in about 1997 of changing the appearance of antiquities in Egypt in an effort to convince the authorities that they were nothing but tacky tourist souvenirs, and then reversing the process when in the UK. Tokely-Parry was the star prosecution witness in the present case. One object covered in the present case was a wonderful head of a deity almost certainly from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at Thebes, which was impounded in the UK; this object was for a while in the BM where I (Nigel Strudwick) saw it.

This trial is likely to send 'shock waves' through the art world as it sets a precedent for enforcing the Egyptian Antiquities laws through those of other nations. Some more background will be found on 30 January below.

The story is widely reported; some examples:

Al-Ahram Weekly online:

Newsday, Inc.:

[Nigel Strudwick adds] It was not possible for the story to pass without a cheap jab at the large European collections of antiquities. Newsday quotes: ' "I think it's a horror when you can see more in the British Museum or in the Louvre than you can see in Egypt," said Philip DiBlasi, staff archaeologist at the University of Louisville'. Allowing for the well-known propensity of the media to misquote people, comments like this help no-one, and Mr DiBlasi has clearly never been to Egypt and to the Cairo Museum. The whole Tokely-Parry episode would not even have broken without the authorities being alerted by one of the museums apparently criticised by DiBlasi.

An article in Al-Ahram Weekly also discussed the issue of a number of stolen objects which have recently been returned to Egypt. [Cyberscribe]

7 February 2002: Plans for new Cairo Museum announced

A long announcement from Egypt relates to plans for a new museum.

For many years, newly-found antiquities and other distinguished artefacts have languished in storerooms or been crammed into overstuffed display cases in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Now a project to build a high-tech museum to display thousands of priceless antiquities is gaining momentum.

The Ministry of Culture has launched an international architectural competition to design the Grand Egyptian Museum in a new location three kilometres north of the Giza Pyramids.

The Arab Development Fund has offered an initial grant of $1 million, which will be used to help finance the competition. The construction and other executive requirements for completion of the project will be financed locally by the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), while the World Bank has expressed its intention to contribute to the museum's construction with a soft-term loan with interest due 20 years after the museum's inauguration.

At a press conference on 9 January to launch the competition, Hosni said a fee of $350 would be required from each competition entrant, plus written evidence that the participant was a qualified architect practising the profession in his or her country or country of residence. Participation will be regulated in accordance with the revised recommendations with respect to the International Competitions in Architecture and Town Planning adopted in 1978 by the UNESCO General Conference. Once paperwork is completed and approved, participants will be expected to submit the designs by the end of April 2002. Hosni said that between May and August a jury would select 20 distinguished designs. The nine-member jury will include architects, Egyptologists, and museologists from Egypt, England, Mexico, Italy, France and Korea. From September to November, the jury will make of choice of the top three winners. The first winner will be awarded $250,000 and his design will be executed. The second will take $150,000, and the third $100,000. The museum, which will be set up on 117 feddans of grounds and have an estimated budget of $350 million, is expected to be completed in four to five years. The Italian government has already financed and carried out a feasibility study. Mohamed Ghoneim, the project supervisor, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the design should not only envisage a luxurious structure to display 130,000 ancient Egyptian objects, but should be a museum complex to expand the knowledge of visitors and enrich the quality of their experience through the interactive use of appropriate techniques and technologies. [Cyberscribe]

Egyptian State Information Service:

Mummy wheat and cures for headaches

On a somewhat lighter note, work at Kew Gardens in London and published in the New Scientist claims to have finally exploded the myth of 'mummy wheat', grains from tombs which could still germinate and grow thousands of years later. This subject has come up periodically since the early days of Egyptology.

John Dickie at the Gardens' Millennium Seed Bank has taken the assumption that mummy wheat would deteriorate at a similar rate to modern grains. His model for the storage conditions comes from the well-studied tomb of Nefertari, the favourite wife of Ramses II, who lived in the second millennium BC, New Scientist said. The tomb's relative humidity is only 16 percent, which is excellent for seed storage. The bad news - even though the tomb is located deep within rock, its temperature fluctuates from 16 to 28.5 C (60.8-83.3 F).Even if the grain was of the highest quality, and the temperature remained constant at 16 C (60.8 F), perhaps one grain in a thousand could still germinate after 236 years. And with the temperature hitting the high 20s C (low 80s F), the grain would all be dead in just 89 years, he calculates. [Cyberscribe]

Egyptian State Information Service:

Independent Online:

A Reuters article, based on an article int he journal Cephalalgia, notes that examination of papyri etc in Cologne has made some suggestions for the Egyptian cures for headaches. [Cyberscribe]


Discoveries near Sohag

A supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) mission unearthed a rock-hewn tomb in the Khazendaria area in Sohag that dates back to the 5th Dynasty (2400 BC). Two statues of the tomb owner were found standing on both sides of the entrance, each of which is 1.5 metres tall, in addition to a relief in the tomb's southern side, showing the tomb owner worshipping the gods. Copper vessels that date back to the Graeco Roman era were also found. [Cyberscribe]

Egypt State Information Service:

A Ptolemaic temple has been found in the Khazendariya area of Sohag. The ruins apparently date to the time of Ptolemy II (246-222 B.C.) The temple contained five statues, including a headless Venus, and some Roman coins. Remains of houses believed to have belonged to the temple builders were also discovered. [Cyberscribe]

USA Today:

Pepy I and KV55 in the Cairo Museum

An article in German in the Westdeutsche Zeitung talks about the restoration of the Pepy I statue from Hierakonpolis and the return of the KV55 sarcophagus fragments. [Cyberscribe] mplate=arttextaaw&ausgabe=3009&redaktion=1&artikel=104190124

[Note from Nigel Strudwick: when I was in Cairo in September, I saw the recently restored copper statue which looked fabulous. It will look truly astounding when it goes back on display]

13 February 2002: Mummy chemistry

An amusing article but reporting on real research describes how scientists in Bristol UK have been examining mummies to find out more about the things they are coated in. See [DISCOVER Vol. 23 No. 3 (March 2002) © Copyright 2002 The Walt Disney Company. ] [Cyberscribe]

January 19, 2002: Encyclopaedia, web site on Nubian missions

The UNESCO executive committee will prepare an encyclopaedia and a web site on the excavation missions that worked in Nubia. Since the international campaign to salvage the Nubia antiquities o be available for those interested all over the world. The committee, at the end of this meeting in Aswan under Gaballa Ali Gaballa, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), decided that the encyclopaedia would comprise the most important pieces and scientific references relating to the Nubia antiquities to be available for those interested all over the world. [Cyberscribe]

Egyptian State Information Service:

January 17, 2002: Roman tomb unearthed in Bourg Al-Arab

"A Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) mission in archaeological area in Alexandria unearthed an ancient tomb that dates back to the Roman era at a site known to the public Manamet Esset Badriya," said SCA Secretary-General Gaballa Ali Gaballa. Excavations began last week within the plan of the Upper Egyptian task force under Adel Rushdy. The mission also found architectural elements built of limestone for the foundations of a hall in which funerary rituals were observed and offerings were given. [Cyberscribe]

Egyptian State Information Service:


6 February 2002: Cyberscribe--a new 'News and Gossip' initiative

I am very conscious that as the number of possible news feeds has increased over the years, the time I have to monitor them has coincidentally decreased. Thus this page does not now contain the amounts of new stuff which it used to. A solution came to me one day as I was looking through the Newsletter of ARCE North Texas, where the President, Clair Ossian, has a Cyberscribe column with material culled from the Internet. Clair has kindly agreed to work with me on putting some of this material into 'News and Gossip'. For more about the Cyberscribe, click here. The first entries appear below.


30-31 January: Early tombs discovered at Helwan

A team of Australian archaeologists believe they have found some of the oldest tombs in Egypt. More than 20 were uncovered at the site of the Helwan cemetery, south-east of Cairo, and date back the more than 5,000 years.

The graves feature written Egyptian language and support theories that writing developed independently there and was not brought from ancient Babylon.

ABC Television reports the tombs were first uncovered five years ago but have only now been revealed. Dr Christiana Kohler, of Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Egyptology, said: "We have here for the first time, very early evidence that allows us to reconstruct the further development of hieroglyphic writing during the archaic period just a couple of hundred years after writing was actually invented."

Macquarie University teams have spent more than 10 years doing excavation work in Egypt, and four years on the Helwan cemetery site.

One particular tombstone, which depicts a seated woman surrounded by early writing, is one of the finest examples of early Egyptian art ever found.

One tomb contained the skeleton of a girl aged between 16 and 18, whose death is believed to have occurred during childbirth, or as a result of disease. Her relatives had ensured she was well prepared for her journey to the afterlife by filling her tomb with cosmetics and containers for the making of perfumed oil. A second tomb contained the remains of a wealthy matron who was buried with two wine jugs, as well as food and stone vessels.

Macquarie University teams have spent more than 10 years doing excavation work in Egypt, and four years on the Helwan cemetery site. As part of the program, students pay for their trip to Egypt and also for their own accommodation to take part in the archaeological digs.

Dr Kohler said the excavation work at the site had taken on a new urgency in recent years as the increasing industrialisation of Egypt -- and the outer suburbs of Cairo -- led to new building developments in the area.

She and her crew will remain in Egypt until the end of February. [Cyberscribe]

[Edited from a mixture of sources including],5942,3673238,00.html

January 31, 2002: tombs at Akhmim

Gaballa Ali Gaballa, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) reported that during restoration of the cemetery of Akhmim in the south Egyptian town of Sohag, five tombs had been found. The tombs are of Old Kingdom date and are decorated.

One tomb, which belonged to a pharaonic princess, is composed of five chambers. Others, made of one chamber each, belonged to ordinary people, said Yehia El-Masry, the director general of south Egyptian Antiquities zone. [Cyberscribe]

Source: Egyptian State Information Service

January 31, 2002: Excavations at Borg Al Arab near Alexandria

An Egyptian excavating team has recently reported finding an important tomb while conducting excavations at Borg Al Arab area near Alexandria. Mr Mohamed Abdul Maqsoud director of Lower Egypt Antiquities explained that the entrance leads to a square hall with a domed ceiling bearing red paintings. It also leads to the burial chamber inside which there were decaying human bones. Above the tomb archaeologists found stone structures forming the foundation of a hall where funerary rituals and sacrifice offering were made.

Source: Egyptian State Information Service

An archaeological subterranean carved tomb and a wine factory dating back to the Roman Age were discovered in "Manamet al-set Badreyya " area at Borg Al-Arab, Adly Roshdi manager of Alexandria Antiquities Department said .

The tomb entry is modelled as that of water pressure containers in the area, the tomb sides are made of limestone masses and at its top part are foundations of a hall for funeral rites and sacrificial offerings.

It is the first time to uncover an integrated square factory made of limestone for producing wine The 25m.x 25m. factory contains rooms for storing pots and rooms for its personnel accommodation, as well as a tank for collecting water used in cleansing the rooms, the manager said.

It is well known that Mariout was a region renowned of wine manufacture and trade which was exported to the entire empire. A sum of LE 40,000, the manager added, was allocated to complete excavation and prospecting works in the area.

Source: Egyptian State Information Service

January 30, 2002: Therapeutic Resort from Roman Age in Qotour

A Mission of the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) at Qotour area in Al -Gharbeyya governorate discovered the first therapeutic resort dating back to the Roman Age. The find includes foundations and walls for baths built from red bricks as well as clay bricks.

SCA Secretary Dr. Gaballa Ali Gaballa said that the mission also found a group of rooms annexed to the baths and were probably used by personnel in charge of the facility and visitors coming for bathing.

The manager of the Lower Egypt Antiquities Department reiterated that a circular bench, embracing a large-size pot probably was used to keep special natural oils for massaging visitors after bathing, was discovered beside the baths. This confirms, he added, that the area was the most important tourist therapeutic resort in the Roman Age .

He also said that a report about the finding will be submitted to Culture Minister Farouk Hosni to allocate the money necessary for completing excavation works in the area where the wells whose water was used in bathing might be also discovered. [Cyberscribe]

Source: Egyptian State Information Service

January 30, 2002: The Trial of a Dealer Divides the Art World

A long story in the New York Times describes elements in the trail of a NY dealer.

Frederick Schultz, owner of Frederick Schultz Ancient Art at on the 11th floor at 41 East 57th Street, has been charged with conspiring in the early 1990's to sell ancient objects that had been taken out of Egypt in violation of a 1983 Egyptian law. That law declared all newly discovered antiquities and those still in the ground to be the property of the Egyptian state.

In other words, the federal government is accusing Mr. Schultz - who last year was president of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art - of trafficking in stolen property.

The case, seen by many as a test of the American government's resolve on stolen antiquities, has divided the art world. It has sent a chill through antiquities dealers who fear more aggressive policing in an area where proof of provenance can be hard to come by, and it has greatly cheered archaeologists who hope that such prosecutions will help cool the illicit antiquities trade.

See the NYT for the rest; suffice to say that it is blowing up again the differences in the art and scholarly world about the practices of the trade in antiquities. [Cyberscribe]

Note that you need to register to read the NY Times site

29 January 2002: New UK law to protect cultural artefacts

IMPORTING and dealing in stolen or illegally excavated cultural artefacts is to be made a specific criminal offence. The move follows Britain's decision last year to sign a United Nations convention banning the illicit trade in stolen art and antiquities. Lady Blackstone, culture minister, told peers the Government intended to bring in the new offence as soon as legislative time was available.

The law is not intended to deal with artefacts which have been acquired long in the past. [Cyberscribe]

January 27 2002: KV55 coffin fragments go on display at the Egyptian Museum

Fragments which went missing in 1931 from Cairo's Egyptian Museum have now returned. How the more than 3,000-year-old fragments got to Europe is a mystery. They resurfaced half a century later in a private Swiss collection, which donated them to the Egyptian Museum in Munich. Bavaria agreed to return the treasures last year. Before Germany sent the treasures to Cairo, Egypt lent the Munich museum the coffin lid - which had remained in Cairo - for a three-month farewell exhibition. After a $90,000 restoration in Germany, the base fragments returned on Friday to be reunited with the lid, which is covered in gold and inlaid with blue, red and green stones.

The German Embassy in Cairo said both collector and museum had always intended to return the fragments to Egypt. The coffin, possibly believed to belong originally to Akhenaten, will be displayed in the Amarna gallery of the Egyptian Museum. [Cyberscribe]

Based on a number of stories.

January 29, 2002: Mummy wheat myth bites the dust

An enduring myth among amateur gardeners - that wheat grains found in the ancient tombs of Egyptian mummies can miraculously flower after millennia underground - has been shot down by science. The legend of so-called mummy wheat spread across Europe in the early 19th century, after Napoleon's army discovered relics of ancient Egypt during its ill-fated expedition to the Nile. Within a few decades, the European press was gripped by reports that grains discovered in tombs up to 6,000 years old were found to have fantastic powers of regeneration, thanks to the arid conditions in which they had been stored - and, who knows, to some mystical power of the Pharaohs. The seeds were said to be so fertile that they could yield as many as seven fat ears of wheat, a figure that chimed in nicely with biblical numerology. At the height of the craze, so-called mummy wheat was sold for nearly 100 dollars for 10 grains at today's prices. The truth, though, is somewhat less exciting, the British weekly New Scientist reported on Thursday. Many cereals can be stored for centuries, provided they are of good quality, are partially dried and kept in stable, chilled conditions and in low humidity. But repeated attempts to resuscitate mummy wheat in the laboratory have failed, yielding only decay and mould.

Meanwhile, a killer blow to the tale has come from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, which used a sophisticated computer model to calculate the potential longevity of mummy wheat. The model, by John Dickie at the Gardens' Millennium Seed Bank, is based on the assumption that mummy wheat would deteriorate at a similar rate to modern grains. His model for the storage conditions comes from the well-studied tomb of Nefertari, the favourite wife of Ramses II, who lived in the second millennium BC, New Scientist said. The tomb's relative humidity is only 16 percent, which is excellent for seed storage. The bad news - even though the tomb is located deep within rock, its temperature fluctuates from 16 to 28.5 C (60.8-83.3 F). Pharonic power or not, this wide variation is disastrous for long-term grain fertility, says Dickie. Even if the grain was of the highest quality, and the temperature remained constant at 16 C (60.8 F), perhaps one grain in a thousand could still germinate after 236 years. And with the temperature hitting the high 20s C (low 80s F), the grain would all be dead in just 89 years, he calculates. [Cyberscribe]

'Cursed' exhibition makes visitors sick

Three Italian schoolgirls have been taken to hospital after falling under the supposed curse of an Egyptian pharaoh. The nine-year-olds collapsed with headaches and nausea after visiting the the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

It is the third time in a year that visitors to the exhibition have become ill, and there have been dozens of other incidents. Many believe the artefacts are cursed. Police have opened an investigation into the mysterious effect, reports the Daily Express.

Investigating procurator Raffaele Guarinello said: "Several people are treating this as a joke but to have so many people falling ill warrants further investigation. Many of the people who fainted complained of a strange, pungent smell coming from the exhibits.

Dr Federico Signorile, of the Turin hospital where the latest victims are being treated, said: "To have so many people feeling ill in one place is unusual and we shall carry out tests to discover if there are any toxic substances present."

But museum director Anna Maria Donadoni insisted: "We have more than 400,0900 visitors a year and there have only been a handful of cases of people feeling ill. There is nothing strange at all and there is nothing wrong with the museum.

One of the trio briefly lost consciousness but medical tests have so far failed to ascertain the reason. Two girls also needed medical attention last year after fainting in the museum.

"There is no doubt a perfectly rational explanation, but everyone is interested because there is the hint of a curse. That is what everyone alludes to -- the mystery of the Pharaoh," said Anna Maria Donadoni, curator of the Egyptian collection.

School friends Tania and Alessandra, both 11-years-old, fainted as they examined a pharaoh's sarcophagus in the museum's basement on Wednesday. Moments later, another girl started to shake and burst into tears.

Since the first fainting incident last March the museum has undergone a battery of tests to check that the air surrounding the ancient monuments was safe.

"We have been waiting for results since March," said Donadoni. "You would have thought if they had found something they would have told us by now." [Cyberscribe]

Source: Ananova & Reuters:


4 February 2002: Glanville Lecture

The Fitzwilliam Museum's 2002 Glanville Memorial Lecture, 'New Excavations in Alexandria by land and sea' will be delivered on Saturday, May 18th by Professor Jean-Yves Empereur of the Centre d'Etudes Alexandrines.
2.30 pm, Mill Lane Lecture Room 3, Mill Lane, Cambridge.

Tickets will be available in April from Dr Lucilla Burn, Department of Antiquities, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge CB2 1RB, email

New ARCE chapter being formed

For information about the proposed ARCE NW, see here.

20 January 2002: New e-journal from BM

The British Museum is pleased to announce the launch of British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan, a new journal published only online. Comments and new articles are invited. The URL is:

15 November 2001: EES book auction

Although essentially a commercial item, I draw your attention to the auction of some old books by the EES. Details are available on their web site.

6 November 2001: Gaballa profile

A very nice and interesting profile of Gaballa Aly Gaballa, the head of the SCA, was published recently in al-Ahram Weekly. The online version is at

5 November 2001: Service resumed

News from Giza

A sixth dynasty tomb of a court physician, called Qar, was found west of the pyramid of Unas. The tomb contained an intact offering table, a rectangular sarcophagus, a set of surgical tools and, in a cachette, 22 bronze statuettes of deities.,1113,2-13-46_1087917,00.html

There is also some news that a Japanese mission excavated a collection of sixth dynasty statues of gods and kings at Abu Seir. See:

[Information courtesy Alexander Biesbroek]

News from May 2000 to September 2001 can be located by clicking here.

News from January to April 2000 can be located by clicking here.

News from April to December 1999 appears to have been lost from an editing error.

News from October 1998 to March 1999 can be located by clicking here.

News from October 1997 to July 1998 can be located by clicking here.

News from July to October 1997 can be located by clicking here.

News from January 1996 to June 1997 can be located by clicking here.

News from April-December 1996 can be located by clicking here.

News from April 1995 to March 1996 can be located by clicking here.

News from Jan-Mar 1995 can be located by clicking here.

News from 1994 can be located by clicking here.

Unless otherwise indicated, © Nigel Strudwick 1994-2016