Thursday, March 22, 2018

Game Review: Interview with Designer Phil Walker-Harding - Nile Scribes

Game Review: Interview with Designer Phil Walker-Harding

In our last blog, we wrote about the fun we had playing Imhotep: Builder of Egypt, an Egypt-themed game where players work together to build miniatures of Egyptian monuments like pyramids, temples, and obelisks. The creator of the game is Phil Walker-Harding, an Australian game designer who designed other popular games such as Sushi Go and Archaeology: The New Expedition. We met up with him by electronic owl mail and asked him about his inspiration for designing Imhotep.

Imhotep: Builder of Egypt

Nile Scribes: What was your inspiration for designing Imhotep?

Phil Walker-Harding: I have always had a interest in archaeology and particularly in ancient Egypt. I am sure it stems from a childhood love for Indiana Jones, The Mysterious Cities of Gold animated series and watching documentaries about the pyramids on TV. As an adult I've looked into these topics a little more seriously and done a bit of reading around them, although I'm sure my understanding is still very glamourised and simplistic!

I've been particularly fascinated by the question of how the pyramids at Giza were constructed. So when I started designing board games, this seemed like an excellent theme to investigate, and that was the starting point. I knew that I wanted the game to use large wooden blocks with which you actually built structures on the board. Once I started playing around with these game components, the structure and mechanisms of the design gradually came together.

NS: Are you planning any future Egypt-themed games?

PWH: It is definitely one of my favourite settings for games! Quite a few of my prototypes actually start out with an Egyptian theme in the very beginning. It has mystery, treasures, puzzles, risk and reward – all great elements to have in a design in its early stages. I have been working more seriously on a couple of other games with archaeological themes, but I'm not sure they will ever get to a point where they will see the light of day. Although, I did get to revisit Imhotep with an expansion for the game called "A New Dynasty". It will be out in English later this year.

A prototype of Imhotep in the works by Phil            Walker-Harding

An early prototype of Imhotep by Phil Walker-Harding

NS: Did you consult a specialist on ancient Egypt when you designed Imhotep?

PWH: The design didn't delve into enough historical detail to require much proper research beyond my basic knowledge about the period. However, it was the publisher Kosmos, who came up with the title for the game, and when they suggested it I did read up on the fascinating figure of Imhotep. I agreed that it was a great fit for the game. 

Photo of the prototype courtesy of Phil Walker-Harding.

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Five Episodes - ARCE's History of Egyptology - YouTube
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Egypt unmoved on Ethiopia's plan to fill Renaissance Dam reservoir

Egypt unmoved on Ethiopia's plan to fill Renaissance Dam reservoir

Article Summary
The Ethiopian government has released its plan for filling the reservoir of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, but Cairo is balking due to stalled technical and impact studies.

CAIRO — Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim, Sudan's ambassador to Egypt, issued an invitation on March 13 to the Egyptian government for an April 4-5 tripartite meeting, along with Ethiopia, to discuss the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir. The invitation was extended to foreign affairs and irrigation ministers as well as, for the first time, security and intelligence officials.

The Ethiopian government had formally handed over to Egypt and Sudan in mid-February its unilateral plan for filling the dam reservoir amid stalled technical and political talks with Egypt and Sudan. So far, disagreements have hindered studies on the dam's impact and all three states have failed to agree on issues involving filling and operating the dam.

Gedion Asfaw, head of the Ethiopian team to the Tripartite National Committee (TNC), told Al-Monitor, "The [filling] plan was sent in an official letter from the Ethiopian minister of water to Egypt, and we will not stop providing information and disclosing our plan. We have asked for a meeting of [TNC] technicians to find the best solution, so as not to cause serious damage."

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia suspended technical talks in November 2017 after failing to reach agreement on the inception report for assessing the hydrological, environmental and economic impacts of the mega project on the downstream countries. The consultants BRL and Artelia received the contracts for the assessment studies.

Both Sudan and Ethiopia rejected the boundaries for measuring the dam's impacts proposed in the consultants' inception report and called for amendments to it. The report established them as the area from the dam site in Ethiopia to the Nile Delta at the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt, but Sudan and Ethiopia want the assessments to extend only from the GERD to the Aswan High Dam. Egypt objects to any amendments. Egyptian studies indicate that the dam will have negative impacts on the Delta, one being higher soil salinity, and therefore Cairo is demanding a broader assessment zone.

On the differences that halted the technical talks, Asfaw said, "The TNC experts had to comment on the inception report, but Egypt, which did not make any comment, rejected the comments of Ethiopia and Sudan." He further explained, "In our comments, we emphasized the need for the consultants to abide by the contracts signed in September 2016. We also proposed various filling scenarios according to the flood or drought situation along the river, taking into account the concerns of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia."

Asfaw continued, "Issues such as the effect of the dam on soil salinity in the Nile Delta in Egypt are not included in the transboundary impact assessment systems agreed upon in the contracts signed with the consultants. There are, however, other points that were agreed upon, such as the impact on agriculture and lands irrigated by the Nile waters in the downstream countries."

Affirming Egypt's stance on Ethiopia's plan for filling the reservoir, an Egyptian government official requesting anonymity and knowledgeable on Nile Basin affairs told Al-Monitor, "Egypt remains committed to the Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which is the only official document governing Egypt's relationship with Ethiopia on this issue."

Principle V of the declaration, signed in March 2015, states, "The three countries, in the spirit of cooperation, will utilize the final outcomes of the joint studies, to be conducted as per the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts Report and agreed upon by the TNC, to: a) Agree on guidelines and rules on the first filling of GERD which shall cover all different scenarios, in parallel with the construction of GERD."

"There will be no official response to the Ethiopian plan at the moment," the Egyptian official said. "The meeting of foreign ministers, ministers of irrigation and intelligence chiefs should move forward on the studies that Cairo sees as the only way to prove in an impartial manner the GERD's impact."

Rawia Tawfik, assistant professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University and researcher at the German Development Institute, told Al-Monitor, "The unilateral move by Ethiopia undermines the Declaration of Principles and the defined track for setting the rules on the GERD filling and operation." She explained that the agreement on filling and operation rules must be discussed jointly. "The filling plan cannot be submitted by one party," Tawfik emphasized.

"The letter [by being sent] may mean that Ethiopia has no intention of talking about compensation. In the filling plan it submitted, it is not clear whether Ethiopia will address any damage to the two downstream states during the GERD filling and operation periods."

Khaled Abu-Zeid, director of the Water Resources Program at the Cairo-based Arab Water Council, told Al-Monitor, "In parallel with the Ethiopian filling plan, the operational plan also needs to be revealed in order to examine the various impacts of filling and operational scenarios. Also, the outcome of said technical studies needs to be relied on when agreeing on the filling and operational bases."

"Questions have been raised about the Renaissance Dam operational levels, on which evaporation, losses and leakage volumes depend," Abu-Zeid said. "Filling the Renaissance Dam leads to a large amount of evaporation and leakage, whose cumulative effect would reduce water storage in Lake Nasser in Egypt. This would affect the safe storage level in Lake Nasser, which Egypt relies on to meet its needs in times of drought and low flood rates."

Cairo is pushing for a joint agreement with Ethiopia on filling the GERD reservoir and operating it in a way that does not affect its Nile waters interests. Ethiopia, however, by informing Egypt of its reservoir-filling plan, seems to be one step ahead and has been steadily arguing a lack of impediments to launching the filling operation.

"Construction at the GERD site and the filling of the reservoir form an integrated process and will not stop," said Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Seleshi Bekele at a press conference Feb. 21.

Ayah Aman is an Egyptian journalist for Al-Shorouk specializing in Africa and the Nile Basin, Turkey and Iran and Egyptian social issues. On Twitter: @ayahaman

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Why the Arab world celebrates Mother’s Day on March 21 - Al Arabiya English

Why the Arab world celebrates Mother's Day on March 21

They purposely celebrated in Spring as it was the season where the flowers blossomed, symbolizing how motherhood is life. (Archive)

March 21 is the day where Arab mothers are serenaded with flowers, cards, gifts and family dinners to celebrate their love, care and sacrifices.

The history of why the important day is celebrated on March 21 dates back to the time of the pharaohs. According to Dr. Mohammed Bakr, the previous director of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, the pharaohs very much respected women and it is obvious from the drawings in their temples how they celebrated women and more specifically, mothers.

He added that Isis, an ancient Pharaonic queen, was the symbol of motherhood at that time where the ancient Egyptians used to make boats filled with flowers to float around Egyptian cities on this specific day to celebrate, which was a tradition carried on by the Greeks and Romans.

Isis was even illustrated on a few temples in Rome depicted as a symbol of holiness, and motherhood. The drawings on these temples showed the various celebrations that took place for women and mothers in ancient Egypt, while hieroglyphics revealed how revered women were.

Bakr said that Mother's Day has since been celebrated by other civilizations, and developed into what it is today. He added that some historians believe that the day was created by the Greeks where they celebrated it in March to mark the beginning of Spring.

He said, like the Pharaohs, they purposely celebrated in Spring as it was the season where the flowers blossomed, symbolizing how motherhood is life.

According to Egyptian historians, the idea began in the modern age by an American activist named Julia Ward in the 19th century. Ward issued a "Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace', envisioning it as a day of peace to honor mothers who lost their sons to the Civil War.

Anna Jarvis.

Back then it was rejected, but finally became a national holiday in the early 1900's under the leadership of activist Anna Jarvis, whose mother had worked closely with Ward.

In the Arab world, the idea was reasserted by the Egyptian journalist, Mostafa Amin, who mentioned Mother's Day in his books in 1943, and 10 years later, he sent an official request to the government and created a campaign for it.

An Egyptian post card stamp commemorating Mother's Day in 1957.

Amin took particular interest in the topic after a woman requested to meet him at his newspaper, and told him about how she raised her son as a single parent and paid for his education until he became a Doctor and bought a house to get married in. She told him that since he got married, her son stopped visiting her to the point where she got psychologically ill and couldn't find anyone to take care of her.

Amin spoke to the minister of Education to create this day, and it was approved by then President Gamal Abdel Nasser who announced in 1956 that mothers shall officially be celebrated on March 21, and the rest of the Arab world followed suit.

Interestingly, when Amin was arrested after being accused of spying for the US, the Egyptian government changed the name to Family Day, however, they received several letters from Egyptian mothers disapproving of the decision so it was named Mother's Day again.

Last Update: Thursday, 22 March 2018 KSA 15:26 - GMT 12:26
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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

King Tut exhibition comes to L.A., but it's not the same as you might remember

King Tut exhibition comes to L.A., but it's not the same as you might remember

"Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" exhibit lands at California Science Center

The golden relics of Tut, evoking the life, mysterious death and storied afterlife of the 19-year-old Egyptian King Tutankhamun, is, for many of us, embedded in our childhood memories — along with those long, long entrance lines.

A touring King Tut exhibition in the 1960s was followed by the blockbuster tour of the '70s — the one that broke records at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, drawing more than 1 million visitors and to this day the museum's most highly attended show. Two exhibitions have roamed the globe in this century, including "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," which showed at LACMA in 2005, and another one in 2008.

Now he's back: "King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh," timed to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tut's tomb, opens at the California Science Center on Saturday.

British archaeologist Howard Carter unearthed the 3,300-year-old bedrock tomb on Nov. 4, 1922, revealing a wealth of ancient Egyptian secrets — and schoolchildren's field trips were forever altered.

But "Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh," for better or for worse, is not the King Tut exhibit Mrs. Felsen dragged you to in eighth grade. Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the management company IMG, the new exhibition has about triple the number of objects that have previously toured — many leaving Egypt for the first time — along with advanced display technology and new science about King Tut's life, health, death and lineage.

But along with the additions, Tut completists will note some absences in the exhibit inventory. Here's what you will find when Tut rolls into town.

This ceremonial gilded                    wooden bed was probably made for King Tut's funeral.
This ceremonial gilded wooden bed was probably made for King Tut's funeral. (Laboratoriorosso)
More is more

A core of about 50 objects have consistently traveled with King Tut exhibitions in the past. You remember, the small, gold "coffinette" that contained King Tut's mummified liver, the gold shrine etched with images of King Tut and his wife, King Tut's carved wooden bust.

Many of the favorites are back, like the coffinette. The new exhibition has 166 total objects, the largest number of King Tut items ever displayed publicly outside Egypt. About 40% of the works haven't left the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities before.

Some items, however, are not returning. Among them: the gold, crown-like diadem from the mummy's head, as well as a wooden King Tut mannequin.

In curating new material for the exhibit, organizers said they aimed for intimate objects like the gold sandals on the mummy's feet when it was discovered, and a pair of worn linen gloves he may have used in real life, circa 1336 BC. There's also a ceremonial wooden bed with lion feet, created for King Tut's body to rest during the afterlife, plus jewelry galore, including gold bands embedded with semiprecious stones and wrapped around the mummy's exterior.

A limited-time offer?

Whether or not it sounds like a marketing ploy, organizers of "Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" said this may be the last time the Tutankhamun collection travels as a whole outside Egypt. The exhibition will appear in 10 cities internationally over seven years, then the objects will go to the still-under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where they will remain permanently.

A gilded wooden figure of                Tutankhamun on a skiff, throwing a harpoon.
A gilded wooden figure of Tutankhamun on a skiff, throwing a harpoon. (Laboratoriorosso)
Immersive galleries

"Immersive" may have been the arts buzzword of 2016, but it's still going strong today. "Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" will feature an "immersive environment," organizers said. That begins with a four-minute introductory film on a 180-degree screen meant to transport people to the Valley of the Kings, where Tut's tomb was discovered.

During the nine-gallery exhibit that follows, guests will pass through six gates of the underworld as they travel with King Tut on his quest for immortality. Along the way, they will encounter good luck amulets, weapons meant to fight off demons, alabaster containers of oils that the ancient Egyptians believed enabled him to see and hear in the underworld, and figurines of gods meant to guide and protect him.

3-D views

New 3-D scans of objects are animated on video screens on top of display cases, so viewers can zoom in and spin the objects onscreen for an interactive experience.

"There's a lot more technology in this exhibition when it comes to being able to help tell the story," says John Norman, IMG's managing director of exhibitions, who also organized the 2005 and 2008 Tut exhibitions. "With these videos, you really get to see these objects in a way you've never seen them before."

Embalmers placed several wesekh                collars between the mummy's layers of bandages. With new                scientific analysis, we now know more about King Tut's                life and death.
Embalmers placed several wesekh collars between the mummy's layers of bandages. With new scientific analysis, we now know more about King Tut's life and death. (Laboratoriorosso)
Scientific analysis

The last galleries in the show focus on the discovery of the tomb itself and the history of Egyptian archaeology along with new scientific analysis of the mummy.

Tut was only about 9 when he became king and 19 when he died, but his exact cause of death has long been a mystery. It still is.

But thanks to technology and new analysis over the last decade, researchers have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding his death.

A video table in the exhibition shows CT scan data of King Tut's mummy. The scan is from 2005, but advances in technology have made it possible to glean more information about it. King Tut had a club foot and an impacted wisdom tooth. New DNA testing shows that King Tut also suffered malaria.

The child king had a badly broken left leg above the knee that pierced his skin. That likely resulted in an infection that caused death.

A new family tree in the exhibit highlights who's who in King Tut's lineage.

"The one thing we absolutely didn't want to do," Norman said, "was duplicate what had been done before."

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Announcement to membership re: Eugene Cruz-Uribe grant

The Board of Directors of the American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California chapter would like to honor our former Chapter member, colleague, and friend Eugene Cruz-Uribe who recently passed away. To do so, we would like to award a student grant in his memory. To date, $300 has been pledged for this purpose from Chapter members. If you would like to contribute to this fund in Gene's memory, please use the Donate button at the Chapter's website ( and in PayPal under "Special Instructions to the Seller" indicate that your donation is intended for the Cruz-Uribe Memorial Student Grant. If you would like to mail a check, please make it out to ARCE-NC and mail it to the attention of Ryan Helton, 222 Edinburgh St., San Francisco, CA 94112. In the memo line, please note that the donation is for the Cruz-Uribe Memorial Student Grant. We hope this student grant can, in some small way, continue Gene's legacy of generosity of spirit and commitment to teaching.

Thank you.

Board of Directors
Northern California Chapter
American Research Center in Egypt

AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Open Access Journal: Oriental Institute Annual Report
On 03/17/18 11:15, Charles Jones wrote:
Open Access Journal: Oriental Institute Annual Report [First posted in AWOL 5 November 2009. Most recently updated 17 Marrch 2018]

Oriental Institute Annual Report
The print versions of the Oriental Institute Annual Report are available for members as one of the privileges of membership. They are not for sale to the general public. They contain yearly summaries of the activities of the Institute's faculty, staff, and research projects, as well as descriptions of special events and other Institute functions.

Download the Entire 2016-2017 Annual Report in a Single Adobe Acrobat Document







Public Education and Outreach. Leila Makdisi

  • Adult and Community Programs. Carol Ng-He
  • K-12 Educator Programs. Carol Ng-He
  • Family and Youth Programs. Leila Makdisi
  • On the Horizon Calgary Haines-Trautman 

Volunteer Program. Susan Geshwender




  • Emeritus Faculty
  • Faculty
  • Research Associates
  • Staff


2015–2016 Annual Report

2014–2015 Annual Report
2013–2014 Annual Report

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:

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AWOL - The Ancient World Online: Nubian Monasteries

On 03/17/18 11:36, Charles Jones wrote:
Nubian Monasteries Nubian Monasteries
This page aims to bring the Nubian monasticism closer to the community of sholars and wider audience as well.
In 2012 I've started a program regarding Nubian monasteries. Thanks to the hospitality of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago and generosity of the Foundation for Polish Science and de Brzezie Lanckoronski Foundation I lead a project on publishing the Qasr el-Wizz monastery carried out by a team of European scholars. The monastery has been fully excavated by George Scanlon on behalf of the Oriental institute in 1965, yet only two preliminary reports in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology has been published. Our objective is to publish the entire material recovered at the site and made this exceptional collection available for the public.
I am also implementing the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology project at the Ghazali monastery, Northern Province, Sudan sponsored by the Qatar Sudan Archaeological Project. It is one of the best preserved and picturesque sites in Sudan. The main objective is preservation of the historic site and its various historical and cultural values for future generations. It consists of two modules: excavations and site management which in turn contains protection, conservation and presentation of the site. The latter part is being done in cooperation with a leading company in the field in site management in the Nile valley.
In March 2015 I have received a grant no. 2014/13/D/HS3/03829 from the National Science Centre, Poland to produce the monograph on Nubian monasteries and compare them with the monastic communities in other countries in the peripheries of the Byzantine world. This website was created thanks this funding

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February Ministry of Antiquities Newsletter

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February Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities (PDF file).

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