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News and Gossip


News from 2006

28 September 2006

Mohamed el-Saghir

The Harwa web site carries a report of the passing of Dr Mohamed el-Saghir:

Dr Mohamed was for many years the Chief Inspector of Upper Egypt based on the East Bank at Luxor, and is well-known to all those who have worked there over more than 30 years. For the last few years before his retirement he was promoted to (I think) head of Pharaonic Monuments, which meant he had to move to Cairo. He was a lovely man, always helpful, a real gentleman, and he will be missed.

9 September 2006

Theban Mapping Project Update--KV Site Management

The Theban Mapping Project announces the publication of the Valley of the Kings Site Management Masterplan on the TMP’s website:

Cairo Museum volunteers wanted

Janice Kamrin has asked me to announce the folllowing:

A team from ARCE (the American Research Center in Egypt), with the support of Dr. Zahi Hawass and Dr. Wafaa el-Saddik and the assistance of the curators and a select group of volunteers, is building a new database for the Egyptian Museum Cairo. The information collected in the database will form the basis for a new collections management system, which will help to bring this pre-eminent institution into the new century. Anyone interested in joining the volunteer force may email the team at Excellent basic Egyptology, some computer savvy (including a functional laptop), and attention to detail required; reading knowledge of French a plus.

4 September 2006

New mummy room in Cairo

al-Ahram Weekly reports on a second mummy room which has opened in the Egyptian Museum.

Death of Naguib Mahfouz

Egypt's most famous living writer died on 30 August. A special section of al-Ahram Weekly looks back at his life and work.

25 August 2006

July/August 2006

Ramesses has moved

The famous statue of Ramesses II which has been outside Cairo Railway Station for many years has been moved to the location of the new Egyptian Museum.


I am sorry to have to report the deaths of Roland Tefnin, Professor of Egyptology in the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and of Aly el-Khouli, retired Inspector in the SCA in Cairo.

Tefnin is well-known as an art historian, who has most recently been working in TT96 at Thebes. Among his specialities was the art of the early 18th dynasty. el-Khouli is known to many as an inspector who first worked with British missions in the 1960s, and rose to be Chief Inspector of Upper and Middle Egypt. He was, among other things, an expert on Egyptian stone vessels.

Both will be sorely missed.

24 June 2006

24 June 2006

"A trifle over bazaars"

The above is the title of an article in al-Ahram Weekly about proposed site changes in Karnak which would involve the removal of various old dig houses, including that of the Egyptian-French Mission which has been there for 50 years. The article also makes reference again to plans for removal of the village of Qurna to et-Tarif.

New edition of BMSAES

A new edition of BMSAES has been issued by the British Museum:

24 June 2006

24 June 2006

Curatorial upheaval in Brooklyn?

A report in the New York Times suggests that major changes are being proposed for the Brooklyn Museum, in that departments are disappearing and staff being arranged into curatorial and exhibitions groups. This is very likely to worry museum curators the world over!

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Coptic version of the Book of Isaiah in Qurna

Reports indicate that a Polish Mission in Qurna located last year the first complete version of the Book of Isaiah in Coptic in a rubbish heap. The identification, however, has only just been made. ?place=Lead02&news_cat_id=269&news_id=4545&layout=2&page=text

13 June 2006

Google Earth

Google's system for displaying satellite images of the Earth has been in existence for a while, but I personally have ignored it as there wasn't a Mac version. However, David Jefferies has pointed out to me that the images of Egypt have been updated, and I note there is now a Mac version.

The satellite images of Egypt are truly remarkable, and there is in fact better coverage of the Nile Valley that there are of much of the UK! [Something to do with the weather?] For example, I could zoom into Sheikh Abdel Qurna and quite clearly see the shaft in TT99 which we excavated in 1997-8. Readers are strongly urged to download the application and have a look:

Thanks to David Jefferies for drawing this to my attention.

UPDATE 22 June

One problem is that Google Earth is an application and not everyone may be allowed or able to install it on their computer. There is no web version of this, but II have realised of course that the satellite imagery used is mostly the same as Google Maps

These maps are accessible via a web browser.

Marcel Marée has brought to my attention a Japanese site which uses the Google map data to provide an annotated list of locations in Egypt and the Sudan. See:

Thanks to Marcel for these URLs.

7 April 2006

UPDATED 12/5/06

Egypt pursuing the St Louis mask

Readers may have seen in the media the controversy about a mask acquired in the 1990s by a museum in St Louis. The mask was found in the 1950s at Saqqara by Zacharia Gonheim; the matter revolves around whether it was illegally taken out of Egypt.

Recent media stories indicate that Zahi Hawass may be planning to use the law to get it back:

Fatwa coming in against statues?

Reports seem to be emerging from Egypt that a senior Islamic cleric has issued a fatwa against people having statues in their homes, on grounds of Idolatry. This has been taken as meaning some misguided individuals might take against the display of statues in museums and temples.

From the timing of the story, I was inclined to see it as an April 1 joke, but now I am not sure and ask readers for their thoughts.

UPDATE: the story was carried again by the BBC on 9 May:

Francis Deblauwe has spotted an interview with the Mufti in the Chicago Tribune in which he indicates that this is being taken out of context:

30 March 2006

Death of ANE list

The death has been announced of the Chicago ANE list. It was the first on the Internet for the likes of Egyptologists and those interested in the Ancient Near East, starting in 1993. Its founder left Chicago in 2005, and the list was officially declared dead in February. It has now been replaced by a Yahoo group

25 March 2006

Predynastic statues in the Delta

Reports are coming in of wooden statues found in the Delta early in March. They are apparently of Predynastic date, and may have been covered with gold leaf. If so, they would be the oldest of either category. They have been found at Tell al-Farkha in the northern region of Daqahliya, by a mission from Poland directed by Krzysztof Cialowicz.

Reports also indicate the existence of a predynastic brewery and various other objects.

Yahoo news URL
Fin 24 news URL

Bolton Nefertiti a fake

Several years ago an alabaster statue of Amarna type, said to represent Nefertiti, was purchased by the Bolton Museum. It has now turned out to be a fake, and two people have been arrested in connection with it.

16 March 2006

More Luxor news

This season is turning out to be an unusually newsworthy one in Luxor.

The following URLs and references are just a sample of the stories on these subjects:

Valley of the Kings

A report on a lecture by Otto Schaden on the new tomb

Temple of Amenhotep III

A number of Sekhmet statues have been found in situ.

The BBC carried a video of an interview with Zahi Hawass and Hourig Sourouzian; unfortunately I can't work out how to link to it direct, so please so to the BBC News and search under Sekhmet or Luxor--at the moment it is a featured link.

Also (with slideshow)

Mut Temple

An intact statue of queen Tiye has been found in excavations there. I understand that the statue has already been moved to the Cairo Museum:

20 February 2006

New burials in the Valley of the Kings

I went on holiday just as this story was breaking so I apologise for being slow on the uptake. A shaft tomb containing five burials, probably of the 18th dynasty, has been located in the valley floor by a mission from the University of Memphis, in the little-examined area near the tombs of Amenmesse, Ramesses III and Horemheb. I do not pretend yet to know the final verdict on the burial, but here is the BBC URL, which has a link to a series of photos:

This part of the Valley of the Kings was first examined by the Amarna Royal Tombs Project in 1998-2002. There has been a lot of discussion on this subject in the EEF list, where further URLs may be found.

URLs added 26/2/06:

There's a lot of uninformed discussion out there, but here is the University of Memphis URL and a couple of others which seem to have more inside news:

16 January 2006

12 January 2006

The old ways are the best?

Under the heading 'Papyrus Trumps Technology', Computer Shopper for November 2005 (p.284) reported that the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) had to find a storage medium to record details of nuclear waste from 26 research reactors which were being dismantled. Given that the waste would remain highly radioactive for thousands of years, the medium had to be one which would remain readable for this sort of time span. They rejected the magnetic tape on which some of the data had been stored for 50 years, as well as CDs and DVDs, which may deteriorate and are likely to become obsolete within 50 years. Modern paper contains lignin acid, and yellows and rots as a result.

The UKAEAs solution was to photocopy over 400 documents onto nearly 12,000 sheets of so-called 'permanent paper', an acid free material with - almost the same composition as papyrus! These were then placed inside dry and airless archiving boxes, designed "to recreate the atmosphere of the Sahara Desert".

Thanks to Chris Elliott for this nugget of information.

Henry G. Fischer

News has reached me from New York of the passing on 11 January of Henry G. Fischer, Lila Acheson Wallace Research Curator Emeritus of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art. His death is a great loss.

I never had the opportunity to meet Dr Fischer, but he was a major figure in American Egyptology. He spent most of his working life in the Metropolitan, and will be best known as one of the foremost and most productive scholars working on the Old Kingdom. His interests were many, ranging from provincial affairs and administration (his thesis was Dendera in the Old Kingdom) to the interaction between art and writing, a subject on which he wrote extensively. He published many books and articles, and had an incredible eye for detail in texts and pictures.

I hope to be able to add obituary notices as I find them.

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

News from October 1998 to March 1999

News from October 1997 to July 1998

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