Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ancient Egypt in the Royal Ontario Museum’s Mosaic - Nile Scribes

Ancient Egypt in the Royal Ontario Museum's Mosaic

Upon entering the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) through its Queen's Park doors, a marvel awaits the visitor in the rotunda above their heads. The ceiling contains thousands of glittering tiles that were installed with a new entrance when the museum was expanded in the early 1930s. When the museum opened the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal entrance in 2007, this ornate, original entrance was closed. Finally, in late 2017, the ROM decided to open its historic doors again. For this year's World Heritage Day, the Nile Scribes take a closer look at this wondrous mosaic that showcases many world cultures.

The ornate mosaic has been a ROM feature since 1933

The ornate mosaic has been a ROM feature since 1933 (authors' photo)

Brief history of the mosaic

The ROM first opened in 1912, and an additional wing was added in 1933 that featured a dazzling, golden mosaic in the rotunda. Then-director Charles T. Currelly had envisioned adding this mosaic to display the strengths and diversity of the museum's collections to visitors as they first entered the building. Artists incorporated symbols and icons from various cultures into the thousands of tiny tiles that took over eight months for them to install. The museum imported thousands of plates of glass from Venice, which were then cut into over a million little pieces – their careful installation on the ceiling must have greatly tested the workers' skill and perseverance.

The central motif is a knot with an inscription from the            Book of Job (37:7)

The central motif is a knot with an inscription from the Book of Job 37:7 (authors' photo)

"That All Men May Know His Work"

The focal point of the mosaic is an inscription taken from the Biblical story of Job – the words "That All Men May Know His Work" run around the central motif of a four-sided knot. The inscription goes back to museological history, when museums were (or sometimes still are) built as repositories of the wonders of God's creation. By the 17th century, wealthy private collectors amassed cabinets of curiosities, which reflected the personal flavours of the collector and would contain artefacts, natural history specimens, and objects from far-away places in an encyclopaedic approach. This was all part of a growing intellectual curiosity that drove wealthy individuals to collect and explore the world of God's creation by classifying diverse collections of objects. The Job 37:7 quotation in the mosaic illustrates an original purpose of museum collections in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. 

An Egyptian vulture with its wings to one side sits atop

An Egyptian vulture grasping a shen ring in its talons (authors' photo)

Motifs and Icons

Below this focal motif, four panels stretch out to each corner of the rotunda, decorated with icons from the Americas, the Ancient World, Europe, and Asia:

  1. Egyptian vulture grasping a shen sign
  2. Bison from North American cave paintings
  3. Winged lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice
  4. Elephant from India
  5. Eagle from a northwest coast crest pole
  6. Inca thunder god, holding snakes representing bolts of lightning
  7. Mythical Greek sea-horse
  8. Romulus and Remus; legendary founders of Rome
  9. Heraldic griffin of Gothic art
  10. Winged bull from Assyria
  11. 3-clawed Dragon from China
  12. Fountain of Lions, from Islamic Alhambra in Spain
A pylon from an Egyptian temple is among the four            examples of architecture

A pylon from an Egyptian temple is among the four examples of architecture (authors' photo)

Architectural Elements

Between each of the panels and above the rotunda's arches, four architectural icons represent buildings from the ancient world:

  1. Egyptian pylon
  2. Mesopotamian ziggurat
  3. Greek temple
  4. Mayan temple
The goddess Nekhbet in vulture form holding a shen-ring            (Photo: MMA)

The goddess Nekhbet in vulture form holding a shen-ring (Photo: MMA 30.4.138)

The Egyptian elements in the mosaic, the vulture and the pylon, remind us of temple visits in Egypt, where monumental towers greet the visitor at the entrance, representing the eastern horizon, where the sun is reborn every morning. The Egyptians called the horizon akhet, but today we use the Greek term for these towers: "pylons." Inside the temples, visitors will see representations of the vulture goddess Nekhbet who spreads her protective wings over images of kings, and grasps a shen ring in her claws, the hieroglyphic sign for encircling and continuity. The vulture is a common motif that decorates temple ceilings in ancient Egypt, so her place in this rotunda mosaic is very fitting!

The next time you enter through the ROM's Queen's Park entrance, make sure to look up and see how many of the icons you can identify!

Photo of the goddess Nekhbet courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Facsimile painted by Charles K. Wilkinson at Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahari (Acc. No. 30.4.138). 

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Fwd: "Karnak is 80% accessible"
On 04/18/18 09:27, Jane Akshar wrote:
"Karnak is 80% accessible"
Mohamed A Fahmy has just posted the most exciting picture. Looks like I need to pay another visit to Karnak. Hope there is more planned at other temples.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Climate change: Cultural heritage won’t wait for action - Egypt Today't-wait-for-action
The German archaeologist and Chairman of Heinrich Barth        Institute, Rudolph Kuper offers a speech titled
The German archaeologist and Chairman of Heinrich Barth Institute, Rudolph Kuper offers a speech titled "Climate, History and Heritage of Egypt's Western Desert" during the 52nd Cairo Climate Talks, April 16, 2018 – Egypt Today

Climate change: Cultural heritage won't wait for action

Thu, Apr. 19, 2018

CAIRO – 19 April 2018: In celebration of World Heritage Day on April 18, Egypt's Ministry of Environment in cooperation with the German Embassy in Cairo held a talk titled "Climate and Heritage: Unlocking the Past, Sustaining the Future" to provide more insight into climate change and its protracted impact on archaeological sites.

The talk, which brought together experts from the government and public sector, representatives of NGOs and various research institutes, aims to highlight the threats that climate change pose on heritage and discuss the different mitigation and adoption measures needed to protect heritage sites as well as intervention methods.

The noticeable deterioration of El Nadura temple in El-Kharga Oasis, in the New Valley Governorate, was discussed in the talk as a vivid example of how climate change and unsustainable practices are endangering Egypt's heritage. Above 45 percent of the original temple has deteriorated, and this has mainly occurred due to climate change including high temperature, low precipitation levels, and high winds.

"If the rate of deterioration continues; the major landmarks, symbols and inscriptions will fully disappear by 2150," Hossam Ismael, associate professor of applied climatology in Assiut University, said during the talk.

"The ordinary citizen has a role in protecting the environment and eliminating air population which is one of the main factors of climate change. Thus, it's important to diffuse knowledge and awareness over climate change and its effect on heritage. Heritage belongs to the Egyptian people and it should be protected by them," Tatiana Villegas, culture program specialist at UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab states, told Egypt Today.

Villegas stressed the importance of the media's role in raising the awareness on climate change. "There should be climate change journalists who are specialized and fully aware of all the reports and updates related to this issue. The media has a crucial role to play in promoting and transferring knowledge about climate change."

In 2016, UNESCO and the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report stating that heritage sites all over the world were already threatened and that more threats were yet to come.

Rising sea levels also form a serious and rapid growing threat to ancient monuments near bodies of water. In the recent floods in the city of Alexandria, many Roman-style buildings were hit by the flood and were damaged beyond repair. Furthermore, air pollution has caused the deterioration and erosion of many archaeological sites.

Addressing the 52nd Cairo Climate Talks, the German archaeologist and Chairman of Heinrich Barth Institute, Rudolph Kuper, offered a speech titled "Climate, History and Heritage of Egypt's Western Desert" in which he touched on the effect of climate change on sites in Egypt's Western Desert.

He recommended raising awareness on invisible archaeology, creating infrastructure for preventive archaeology, limiting bureaucracy and routine archaeology as mitigation measures to protect heritage sites.

The talk came up with a set of recommendations that includes reducing unsustainable practices as well as immediate intervention in order to maintain heritage, its culture, knowledge and its economic return.

World Heritage Day, launched in 1983, aims to raise awareness not only on the diversity of the planet's cultural and natural heritage, but also its fragility. It also spots the ways in which we can conserve and safeguard this heritage while highlighting preservation initiatives worldwide.
--   Sent from my Linux system.

Blast your way through ancient Egypt with the upcoming Immortal Redneck for Switch | Immortal Redneck upcoming | Nintendo Switch | Pocket Gamer

No flames, please. This was just too absurd NOT to pass along. Glenn

Blast your way through ancient Egypt with the upcoming Immortal Redneck for Switch

Guns and ancient gods

Product: Immortal Redneck
For: Switch

Immortal Redneck Switch, thumbnail 1
Crema's ridiculously-titled rogue-like first person shooter Immortal Redneck will be blasting its way onto Switch on May 10th.

You'll play as the titular character, awakening as a mummy after crashing your dune buggy in the Egyptian desert. As you try to find out who is responsible for your undead state, you'll fight off mythological monsters with an array of weapons.

One element that helps keep the game from getting too repetitive is the presence of various scrolls that can modify the conditions you're in. These can be positive effects, like immunity to lava, or something negative, such as making the floor extra slippery.

The trailer shows a bright and splashy world that looks like it would be satisfying to blast your way through, coupled with a good dose of irreverence and mummies. The monster-destroying action can be yours for $19.99/£17.99 when it lands on May 10th.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Ancient Egyptian Incantations Tell of Biblical Human Sacrifice

Ancient Egyptian Incantations Tell of Biblical Human Sacrifice

Ancient Egyptian Incantations Tell of Biblical Human                Sacrifice
This 1,500-year-old papyrus was found near the pyramid of the Pharaoh Senwosret I.
Credit: Rogers Fund, 1934/Public Domain

Scientists have deciphered what they describe as a 1,500-year-old 'magical papyrus' that was discovered near the pyramid of the Pharaoh Senwosret I.

The text dates to a time when Christianity was widely practiced in Egypt.The  unnamed person(s) who wrote the incantations in Coptic, an Egyptian language that uses the Greek alphabet, invoked God many times.  

"God of Seth, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of Israel, watch over everyone who suffers. My word, may it come to pass with power," reads part of the translated papyrus.

"May every spirit that is in the air obey me," the papyrus user asks God.

Several times in the papyrus God is called "the one who presides over the Mountain of the Murderer" a phrase that likely refers to a story in the Book of Genesis in which God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, wrote Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, a researcher in the department of classics at Oxford University, who described the magical papyrus in the journal Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde. [Cracking Codices: 10 of the Most Mysterious Ancient Manuscripts]

The Book of Genesis says that God stopped Abraham before he actually sacrificed his son. However in this papyrus the story is described in such a way that it sounds as if the sacrifice wasn't stopped wrote Zellmann-Rohrer noting that other texts from the ancient world also claim that the sacrifice was completed.  "The tradition of a literal sacrifice seems in fact to have been rather widespread," Zellmann-Rohrer wrote.

The papyrus was uncovered during a 1934 expedition by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the papyrus is now at the Met but had never been deciphered or detailed in a scientific journal until now.

"The text surely belongs to a Coptic phase of habitation at the pyramid complex, noted by the excavators, which is marked by substantial burials," wrote Zellmann-Rohrer in his paper. He told Live Science that it's possible that the papyrus was put in one of the burials.

Zellmann-Rohrer became aware of the text while looking through the Met's digital catalog of its holdings.

The papyrus is likely a copy of another text, possibly part of a book, Zellmann-Rohrer said. Based on the handwriting, the text seems to have been copied onto the papyrus by two or possibly three people, Zellmann-Rohrer wrote. He added that the writing "lacks professional proficiency" and that those who copied the text were likely not professional scribes.

The papyrus makes little reference to the New Testament, referring mainly to individuals mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The papyrus also mentions terms and names often used by followers of Gnosticism, a religion that incorporated some of the beliefs of Christianity, Zellmann-Rohrer said.

Those who copied the text onto the papyrus may have been Christians who "made use of a textual tradition that owed much to Jewish belief and lore and to Gnosticism," Zellman-Rohrer said.

The papyrus never mentions the name of the person who used the artifact. One of the people who copied the text could also be the user, Zellmann-Rohrer said. It's also possible that the user paid other people to copy it for them he added.

The magical papyrus is not currently on public display, the Met says on its website.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that God told Isaac to sacrifice his son before God stopped him, but in fact, in the Book of Genesis, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Originally published on Live Science.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rumors about King Tut’s death anger Zahi Hawass - Egypt Today's-death-anger-Zahi-Hawass

File: Zahi Hawass File: Zahi Hawass

Rumors about King Tut's death anger Zahi Hawass

Wed, Apr. 18, 2018

CAIRO – 18 April 2018: "False" information regarding King Tutankhamen's cause of death angers famous Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass.

Researchers, relying on King Tut's statues, golden mask and mummy, said that the pharaoh had been killed by a strike to the face.

Hawass rhetorically asked, "If King Tutankhamen was really beaten on the face, would the people have worshipped him and built statues of him with an injured face?" He said they would not have done so, adding that the cracks on the wooden sculptures are a natural result of what happens to wood over time.

Hawass clarified in remarks to Egypt Today that a scientific study was done on King Tut's mummy with a CT scan at the highest level of quality, in which a hole was discovered in the back of the pharaoh's head. Hawass added that the hole turned out to be an opening to insert embalming fluid and that a similar hole was also found in the mummy of Ahmose I.

Zahi Hawass supervises the removal of King Tutankhamen's mummy from his stone sarcophagus in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings Nov. 4, 2007-REUTERS/Ben Curtis

"The studies that have been carried out by almost 20 specialists in Egyptology, radiology and other related majors showed that the golden king died at the age of 19. He suffered from 'flat foot', the blood wasn't reaching his toe nails, and he had malaria," Hawass continued.

He added, "From the examination on the mummy, the scientists, whether Egyptian or foreign scientists, confirmed in 2005 that there was a hole in his foot and that this hole was due to an accident two hours before his death."

According to Hawass, whoever calls himself a historian must have written not less than 200 scientific articles and about 40 books.

This comes after Egyptologist Bassam el Shamaa claimed that Tutankhamen was struck on the face by an axe. He linked this to a mark on the left side of the wooden statue in the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square. He added that the golden statue of Tut has the same mark.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

In Egypt a pharaoh rises as a nation is destroyed

In Egypt a pharaoh rises as a nation is destroyed

Egypt is a nation cocooned in a nightmare, its elite devoid of ideas and adrift in changing region and world.

The philosopher Walter Benjamin once wrote that 'behind every fascism, there is a failed revolution'. Well, in Egypt, behind its very own modern 'fascism'—or for the pedantic, 'totalitarianism'—you'll find the corpses of revolutionaries

The regime's dungeons are packed full of them too – tortured, broken and often condemned people stuffed away in the dark. 

In Cairo, a pseudo-parliament, General Abdel Fatah el Sisi's Maglis El Nowwab, is packed full of only his most loyal and servile kleptocratic cronies.

Even the walls of revolutionary graffiti, the most famous of which was found on Mohamed Mahmoud Street just off Tahrir Square, have been cleansed or face demolition. One might think that the question of graffiti is a small one - some elitist fancy that causes indignancy only among a privileged few. Perhaps this is now the case, but it was not always so.

This was a revolutionary artform – by referencing the ancient and famous artform of hieroglyphs painted and carved on the walls of Egypt's most famous monuments, depicting both the past, present and future of the country, the artists sought to claim that moment – January 25, 2011 until July 3, 2013 – as the time when the people got to express themselves. 

The monument was the revolution, and Pharaoh—for the first time in Egypt's long history—was the people. Egypt's organs of control, the hated Central Security Forces, had retreated, its institutions of domination were in chaos as people swarmed into Tahrir to claim their future. 

But there's a new pharaoh in town. And he determines not just the present and the future in terrifying new ways, but the past too. This gets to the very core of counter-revolution and the necessity of totalitarianism in Sisi's Egypt. 

Take the recent 'election'. To even use the word 'election' to describe what occurred at the end of last month over the course of 3 days is an exercise in the absurd. 

No election took place in Egypt. At least Mubarak had the twisted courtesy to call his own anti-democratic re-accessions to the Egyptian throne as 'democratic ceremonies', but the Sisi regime, caught as it often is between the facade of change and vicious tyrannical arrogance, went ahead with this 'ceremony' as if it was an actual election. 

In truth, Sisi was simply re-anointed as president without any fuss. To call what occurred 'political', by the normal standard, is as equally preposterous. The event was brazenly anti-political

The usual political process of elections, such as antagonism between competing ideological forces via debates and electioneering, were of course entirely absent. 

In fact, anything political concerning the election was crushed. Even among the small pool of what you might call the 'tolerated opposition' (known as feloul in the era of democracy following January 25), Sisi acted swiftly to neutralise any potential challenge that might stir something among the pliable, conditioned and broken electorate.

Genuine opposition?

The two most famous candidates that tried to stand against Sisi were former Mubarak-era Army Chief of Staff Sami Anan and Mubarak's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, who was also the figurehead of the counter-revolutionary campaign to stop Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi triumphing in the genuine election of 2012. 

While both are hardly bastions of freedom and democracy in Egypt, it's wrong to say that they didn't present specific threats to Sisi.

Anan, for example, had courted support among the remnants of the once mighty but now broken, banned and underground Muslim Brotherhood, while he selected Hisham Geneina as his running mate.

During Morsi's time in government, Geneina had been Egypt's top auditor, tasked with mapping the scale of the kleptocracy that had mushroomed under the rule of Mubarak and the military. Geneina's auditing found that in just three years alone an astonishing $76 billion in public funds had been lost to Egypt's kleptocrats. 

Of course, they couldn't have that. In 2016, Geneina was sentenced to one-year in prison under the ludicrous charges of 'spreading false news' and 'disturbing the peace'. 

For Anan to appoint him as his running mate for the 2018 election was thus a major signal to Sisi that he had real intentions of criticising the status quo that Sisi upholds. 

After announcing his intention to run, Anan was arrested and 'interrogated' under the charge of 'inciting against the armed forces'. Most of his campaign staff were also arrested, including his running mate Geneina. Whatever the regime said to Anan and his team, met its desired effect – they promptly shut up and made no further criticisms of Sisi.

The process was similar with Shafik. After Morsi's election, Shafik, seeking to protect himself and his looted wealth, had fled to the UAE. 

After he declared his intention to run, Sisi's main patrons in the UAE would not let him leave the country. Shafik made as much noise as possible about his 'imprisonment' in the UAE, including an interview with Al Jazeera, forcing them to relent and let him leave. 

Shafik landed in Egypt and was immediately detained. He barely got to touch Egyptian soil before he was whisked away by the notorious Mukhabarat. It's worth noting the immediate danger Shafik posed to Sisi. 

Though the internal dynamics of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are extremely hard to extrapolate, it is known that they are not unanimously uncritical when it comes to Sisi's presidential rule.

It just might be that Shafik, who once garnered so much support from the same elites who now support Sisi, could truly shake things up for Sisi were he to stand against him.

Even though the vote is fixed, his candidacy could've put a strain on the already creaking foundations of Egypt's establishment.

One potential fault line is that Shafik might represent a wing of the Egyptian ruling class who aren't so keen on the extent to which Sisi has ceded so much sovereignty to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. One of Sisi's most fraught times in power was the controversy over Egypt giving the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

Not only did Sisi face widespread criticism from the public over this, but, for the first time since he seized power, he faced public criticism from ruling class loyalists. This was followed by more criticism from within the establishment following the assassination of 16 high-ranking police officers in el Bahariya. 

In both cases, one of the loudest critics was none other than Ahmed Shafik, who tied the island issue to what he called "bad events in recent times under Sisi's rule", as well as accusing Sisi of "betrayal".

The way Shafik and Anan have been treated has ignited rumors that SCAF may not have Sisi's back forever, particularly if he keeps ceding Egypt's territorial integrity to the UAE, Saudi and Israel, and if he fails to secure US support and loans for the Egyptian Army. 

Every single meaningful candidate was blocked from running, but someone had to run. Who else better to run in a fake election than someone who supports Sisi? Enter Moussa Mustafa Moussa, leader of the pro-Sisi El Ghad Party and someone who had been—until he was forced to run against Sisi to complete the ceremony—gathering signatures for the Sisi campaign and openly advocating Sisi's continued rule. 

He was chosen to be the token 3 percent to Sisi's 97 percent.  

Sisi's friends manifest his fears

But while it's easy to look at all of this as a farce, it paints the sinister reality of the kind of society being shaped in Sisi's Egypt. While Mubarak's brand of authoritarianism, often brutal, reigned supreme, there was room, often mere millimetres, for dissent and antagonism towards the regime. 

In Sisi's Egypt, however, which is one that has as its modus operandi not just overturning everything about January 25 but making sure nothing like January 25 could ever happen again, the point is to stamp out even the slightest hint of hope of change. 

Mubarak's mistakes, such as giving too much freedom to campuses and not clamping down on the internet, are now the main targets of Sisi's totalitarian order. 

Hannah Arendt once wrote of the way in which the totalitarian state relates to the subject that "there are no dangerous thoughts – thinking itself is dangerous".  And this was at the heart of Egypt's non-election. The point was to blunt thought itself – to intimately attach 'politics' (i.e. Sisi's re-anointment) with the absence of thought. 

Creativity is at the heart of democracy – self-organisation and self-determination are creative acts. This is what the murals on the wall represented – Egyptians, outside of the elite, grasping creative control of their country. 

This is everything that Sisi seeks to destroy – everything he fears: democracy, a politically engaged and active youth, open to the world through the internet and at university, as well as people capable of thinking beyond their often-dismal lives in a decaying third world country.

This itself leads to the huge contradiction at the heart of Egypt. 

Egypt, under the control of destructive tyrants, is falling apart. In connivance with Sisi, Saudi's new sociopathic heir apparent announces Egyptian mega-cities and the regime plans to build a new capital city in Egypt. 

These projects serve the double injustice of benefitting and appealing to Egypt's kleptocrats, foreign investors and rich tourists. 

Egypt's third world masses, now over 100 million of them, are, as ever, left behind in dusty, decaying old Cairo, where they increasingly live in slums and even in their own and others' graves

For the elites, there are city-sized theme parks on the horizon from their gated communities, but for the poor there is only social destruction.

Though Sisi tries to underpin all this by instituting a new totalitarianism—with campuses, once sites of fierce protest, now more akin to prisons, while simply questioning the military is an offence—the reality is that under the surface dissent continues to bubble away. 

Egypt's economy survives thanks to the huge bolstering by aid and loans from Saudi and the UAE, as well as a $12 billion IMF loan that carries with it stringent and painful austerity measures that are hitting Egypt's poorest.

Tourism, the backbone of Egypt's economy, has not even begun to recover as Daesh continues to control part of the Sinai. 

Though depicting himself as a bastion of stability, Sisi's brutal methods in dealing with what began as a non-jihadi insurgency of Bedouins in the Sinai—who have long been alienated and impoverished by Egypt's intransigently racist central governments—has led to the worst security situation in Egypt's history with terror attacks a daily reality not just in the Sinai, but also in the Delta and Nile Valley.

There was a joke that used to do the rounds among Egyptians during the Mubarak era. The joke references Fatimid Egypt, when the Fatimid Imams made Cairo beautiful enough to be fit for the coming Imam Mahdi to live in. The joke goes that though Imam Mahdi did not return during Fatimid times, he was late and came during Mubarak's time. He took one look at Cairo and all of Egypt's problems and went straight back to heaven. 

The Messiah never came to Egypt, but January 25 did, in all its delicate, haphazard and at times dangerous glory. The devils currently tasked with destroying it may find that through such destruction something new is created.  

As with Mubarak, tyrants always produce their own gravediggers – it might not be in a month, a year or even ten years, but Egypt's contradictions will catch up with Sisi or whatever tyrant may take his place.

The revolution might be dead, its demographics broken, and its symbols erased, but Sisi's desperate actions prove that its ghost remains. 

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

We welcome all pitches and submissions to TRT World Opinion – please send them via email, to

Sam Hamad is a Scottish-Egyptian writer based in Edinburgh.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Kitty City: cat people catered to at the Carlos | Opinion |

Sent from my Linux system.

The Pharaoh Effect: How Ancient Egypt is a Trope We Can't Bury |

The Pharaoh Effect: How Ancient Egypt is a Trope We Can't Bury

How much of modern culture is influenced by the past? Despite today's actors, artists and creative types all wanting to create something fresh, the hands of time often reach back and pull a project into the modern era. Indeed, although the civilizations might be different, the thoughts, feelings, conflicts and emotions are timeless. In fact, the cyclical nature of life and its ever-present themes are due to be the subject of a new series. Titled Cleopatra and written by Michael Seitzman, the project will be Freeform's first period drama. After NBC initially bought the series back in 2012, Freeform took up the mantle and have given it the greenlight for release in 2019. Why now? With gender issues and women's equality coming under scrutiny in recent times, the producers are using Cleopatra as a vehicle to tackle modern issues. Reaffirming that old topics never die, the show will depict how a female rose to power in a less egalitarian society than we have today.

Pyramids of Egypt

The Rise of Ancient Egypt in Modern Times

Of course, it's not always the case that artistic ventures look backwards to move forwards. 2018's Ready Player One was Steven Spielberg's attempt to capture the zeitgeist of human's gradual immersion into an alternate universe. Costing $175 million, according to, to make and almost that again to market, the adaptation of Ernest Cline's is based in the year 2045 and uses today's penchant for virtual reality to tell a story of survival and escape. However, when you scroll through the annals of pop culture, the ancient world is one that never seems to go out of fashion. In fact, as the forthcoming revival of Cleopatra suggests, our fascination with Ancient Egypt is as enduring as the iconic Pyramid of Giza. Even as far back as the Ancient Romans, Egyptian culture was spreading its influence. From landscaped gardens and Egyptianized status of Antinous to the worshipping of Egyptian deities, the Romans took a lot of inspiration from their predecessors.

In modern times, the 19th century saw Europe gripped by Ancient Egyptian tributes and artefacts. Following Napoleon's 1798 invasion of Egypt and the subsequent release of Description de l'Égypte, Egyptomania saw Europeans go wild for the culture. Jean-Fran?ois Champollion's 1822 work deciphering hieroglyphics only added to the spread of Ancient Egyptian influences across the continent into the 20th century. Although interest ebbed and flowed over the decades, the love of pyramids and pharaohs never truly faded after the rise of Egyptomania. Noted crime writer Agatha Christie was famously hot on the Egyptian culture. The wife of archeologist Max Mallowan, Christie had the historical knowledge to give her novels the accuracy necessary to make the stories both believable and relevant. Death on the Nile (1937) was the first voyage into a world of scarab beetles and hieroglyphics. Turned into a hit movie starring Peter Ustinov in 1978, Christie followed up with Death Comes as the End in 1944. With Ancient Egypt's gilded edge starting to offer a golden backdrop for creative works of fiction, the latter half of the 20th century saw the gradual diversification of the genre.

Ancient Icons Become the Stars of Today

Movie theatres soon became portals back to a different era as directors and scriptwriters began the now-familiar process of telling modern stories through an ancient envoy. Although not the first, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Cleopatra (1963) is considered one of the most notable Hollywood productions about the ancient culture. Starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the movie chronicles the life of the famous queen from her impressive rise to her later struggles. In what can be seen as a testament to the popularity of Ancient Egypt as a thematic device, the movie ran way over its original budget. By the time the costs had been tallied up, Cleopatra cost Twentieth Century Fox and its investors a reported $31 million (equivalent to $251 million in 2018). Despite the unanticipated costs, Cleopatra went on to gross $71 million worldwide ($575 million in 2018) and prove that the long-since-gone civilization was a hit with movie-goers. Indiana Jones is arguably the most successful Egyptian-themed franchise since Cleopatra, with Harrison Ford's six gung-ho adventures raking in just short of $1 billion ($939,177,554 between 1981 and 2008) according to Box Office Mojo. Even if Jones was the peak of the pyramid, that hasn't stopped directors from digging deeper into the catacombs of Ancient Egypt. As we've noted, Alex Proyas was "clearly in a playful mood" when he directed Gods of Egypt (2016). Smarter and less cliched than the story would suggest, the movie sees gods and pharaohs battle for supremacy. The beauty of Gods of Egypt is that it didn't take itself too seriously. By laughing and allowing others to laugh at it, the movie was a surprise hit that year.

From the big screen to the small screen, Egyptomania has found its way into our homes through a variety of mediums. For comic fans, Marvel's Kang lived as pharaoh Rama-Tut after going back in time to recruit Apocalypse. Across the divide in the DC Comic universe, Blue Beetle and Hawkman both have roots in Ancient Egypt. For TV audiences, sci-fi shows have a particular penchant for traveling back to the ancient world. The stars of Star Trek, Doctor Who and Babylon 5 have all walked among the pyramids. Continuing this trend, the gaming industry has embraced the theme in a big way. By far the most recognizable is the Eidos Interactive hit, Tomb Raider. First released in 1996, the franchise has produced 19 games to-date with 2018 seeing the release of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. From these console games, spinoff movies and, interestingly, alternative games have emerged. On the casino gaming side of the spectrum, Lara Croft has appeared in various slot games. In fact, that's merely the tip of the pyramid in the iGaming industry. For the best part of two decades, Egypt has become a popular slots motif. Rise of the Pharaohs is one of the most recent examples that gives Cleopatra the power to unlock a progressive jackpot when she forms the right combination across five reels and 15 paylines.  

An Indelible Mark on Society

Moving away from the world of movies, TV and games completely, many of the things we do today are borrowed from the Egyptians. Archaeologist William Matthews Flinders Petrie was the first person to discover the precursor to a game we now call bowling. Further evidence to back up the claim bowling was born in Ancient Egypt came courtesy of Professor Edda Bresciani, an Egyptologist at the University of Pisa. Analyzing artefacts from Narmoutheos, Bresciani and his team concluded that some houses contained lanes and stone balls. Beyond bowling, wigs, glass, door locks and even toothpaste all came from the Ancient Egyptians. In fact, it's because of these links that the theme has become such a rich source of material for creative types. As well as leaving an imprint on our minds through its various myths and legends, Egypt has left a physical mark on our culture. In other words, the pyramids will always be visible on the horizon when it comes to creating movies, TV shows and more. Because of the unbreakable connections we have to the ancient civilization, Egypt will continue to provide an interesting way of illuminating some aspect of modern life, which is why it's a trope we can't bury.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

A tour of Berlin's art masterpieces with Andrew Graham-Dixon | Christie's

Bust of Queen Nefertiti from Amarna, Egypt, circa 1350            BC. Photo Scala, Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur            und Geschichte, Berlin

Why Berlin's masterpieces offer enlightenment in uncertain times

Berlin is one of the great destination cities for anyone interested in the visual arts, in archaeology or in antiquity — a fact Andrew Graham-Dixon was reminded of on a recent visit

I am always touched by Berlin's raggedness, the feel it still has of a place emerging from — or returning to — its own ruins. I can't think of another city where the old and the new, the half-built and the unbuilt, windblown desolation and perfect kemptness coexist quite so jarringly.

I was last there earlier this year, on a cold winter's day in January. Not many other pedestrians were out to brave the minus-something temperatures. On the plus side, this meant that most of the museums I had come to visit were populated by the sparsest of crowds — and what museums they are! You could spend a month in Berlin and still fail to exhaust their riches.

Babylon's Ishtar Gate, sixth century BC, as                  reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum. Photo Scala,                  Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und                  Geschicht

Babylon's Ishtar Gate, sixth century BC, as reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschicht

The most famous is probably the Pergamon Museum, with its great slabs of frieze from the Pergamon Altar, unearthed in the 1870s by Prussian archaeologists, and its grand reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way of ancient Babylon, formed from hundreds of thousands of pieces of vividly glazed brick discovered during German excavations in Mesopotamia in the early 20th century. It is quite possibly the world's most impressive jigsaw puzzle, conjuring up the daunting splendour of the great tyrant Nebuchadnezzar's city as it was in the 6th century BC.

Just around the corner, on the city's so-called Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is the Altes Museum, an imposing neoclassical hulk designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, which houses a collection of antiquities that owes its origins to the Renaissance cabinets of art and curiosities formed by the Electors of Brandenburg.

Drinking vessel by the potter Sosias, circa 500 BC. Photo            Scala, Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und            Geschicht

Drinking vessel by the potter Sosias, circa 500 BC. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschicht

My favourite things here are small but exquisite, microcosmic in comparison with the macrocosmic wonders of the Pergamon: the drinking cup of the potter Sosias, a wonderful vessel from the fifth century BC found in an Etruscan grave in Italy, decorated with scenes from Homer and Greek myth evoking death and resurrection; and the so-called Green Caesar, named for the colour of the basanite from which it is carved, which brings us face to face with Julius Caesar himself, brow furrowed, staring eyes formed disconcertingly of white marble set into the dark stone of the rest. Conservation indicates that the eyes are a later addition, but perhaps they reflect the original arrangement, itself meant to recall Caesar's famous words 'Veni, vidi, vici.'

The 'Green Caesar', named for the colour of the basanite            from which it is carved. Photo Scala, Florencebpk, Bildagentur            für Kunst, Kultur und Geschicht

The 'Green Caesar', named for the colour of the basanite from which it is carved. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschicht

Just above the Altes Museum is the Alte Nationalgalerie, a building that reflects the growth of German nationalism in the years following the revolutions of 1848. Completed in 1876, it was brought into being to answer calls for a museum dedicated specifically to German painting and sculpture, and houses what must be the most impressive collection of German Romantic art anywhere in the world: the room reserved for the works of Caspar David Friedrich, the most quintessentially melancholic of all 19th-century painters, is utterly haunting and memorable.

Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1809. Photo            Scala, Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und            Geschichte, Berlin

Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1809. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin

From there, at the risk of bringing on a bout of Stendhal Syndrome, a visitor might take the short walk to the Neues Museum, which contains one of the world's great collections of Egyptian antiquities, including the globally (and justly) famous painted limestone bust of Nefertiti uncovered by German archaeologists excavating the workshop of Thutmose, sculptor to the pharaoh Akhenaten, on a site in Amarna in December 1912. This is, quite simply, one of the wonders of the world.

Bust of Queen Nefertiti from Amarna, Egypt, circa 1350            BC. Photo Scala, Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur            und Geschichte, Berlin

Bust of Queen Nefertiti from Amarna, Egypt, circa 1350 BC. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin

Last but not least, perched on the northern tip of the island, is my own personal favourite of all the Berlin museums: the Bode Museum. Here the collections, notable above all for sculpture, are displayed in the seemingly negligent manner of the late 19th century, which very much adds to the charm of the place.

Donatello, the Pazzi Madonna, circa 1420. Photo Scala,            Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte,            Berlin

Donatello, the Pazzi Madonna, circa 1420. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin

Even on a busy day, there rarely seems to be much of a crowd, and the objects — which range from masterpieces of Renaissance limewood carving by Tilman Riemenschneider to baroque ivories, from crude works of medieval folk art to graceful dancing figures by Canova — can be enjoyed in relative peace and isolation. For me, the outstanding work in the museum is a schiacciato  relief in marble, by Donatello, of the Madonna and Child: Mary presses her face to that of Jesus, a refugee mother desperately comforting her child.

Berlin is one of the great destination cities for anyone interested in the visual arts, in archaeology or in antiquity. The city's riches are one legacy of the German Enlightenment, which was actually a rather small window of time, stretching from the lifetime of Goethe (1749–1832) to the outbreak of the First World War: a golden age of German civilisation that passed, decisively, with the advent of the toxic version of German nationalism espoused by Hitler and the National Socialists.

What the art of Berlin tells us is there has only ever been one human race: creating, striving, imagining, thinking, making and being

The Nazis poisoned attitudes to art with their attitudes to race, and forced a generation of liberal art historians into exile. The institution where I learned my art history, the Courtauld Institute in London, was to a great extent shaped by German and Jewish intellectuals fleeing from persecution: men like Aby Warburg, or Edgar Wind. In his book A Little History of the World, another well-known émigré art historian from the German-speaking world, Ernst Gombrich, remembered his own horror at this turn of events: 'it seemed to me inconceivable that anyone might ever again stoop to persecuting people of a different religion... or question the rights of man. But... I myself saw Hitler's brown-shirt supporters beating up Jewish students at Vienna University.'

Berlin still bears the scars of the 20th century's tumult. As often as not, the city's many open spaces reflect not the decisions made by town planners, but the impact of bombs. They are not really open spaces, but blank spaces, still to be made good. Likewise, many of the areas that once bordered the Berlin Wall feel less like neighbourhoods than wounds yet to be healed.

Caravaggio, Amor Vincit Omnia, 1602. Photo Scala,            Florencebpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte,            Berlin

Caravaggio, Amor Vincit Omnia, 1602. Photo: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin

I felt this most strongly as I walked from Museum Island to the Gemäldegalerie, which is one of the best painting museums anywhere. To find it, you have to negotiate what seems like a mile of ring road and urban wasteland, and yet, when you do reach this rather unpromising, bunker-like structure, you encounter some of the most brilliant works of art in existence: paintings by Titian, Caravaggio's Amor Vincit Omnia  and, perhaps best of all, one of my top ve paintings in the world, Giovanni Bellini's incomparable Resurrection, a bright and lovely dream of redemption and hope in the cruellest of worlds.

To my mind, it is art that points the way forward in troubled times, and always has done, even if its message has not always been listened to. What the art of Berlin says above all, in its multifarious and manifold nature, is something very straightforward and very humane. What it tells us is that from ancient Africa to ancient Greece, ancient Rome, medieval France, Spain under the Moors, Renaissance Italy, 19th-century Germany and into the present, there has only ever been one  human race: creating, striving, imagining, thinking, making and being.

There are no other races, no other peoples. There's only us, and if we can see our many selves, side by side, within the confines of the great museums of world history, then surely we can get along side by side in the here and now. For me, this is really why museums like those in Berlin matter. They remind us of who we are, and of how we should behave.

This April, Christie's invites you to a series of special events in Berlin celebrating the very best of making and collecting art in German
--   Sent from my Linux system.

Temporary exhibition displays 300 artifacts for first time at Egyptian Museum - Egypt Independent

Temporary exhibition displays 300 artifacts for first time at Egyptian Museum

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany will on Wednesday evening inaugurate a temporary archaeological exhibition at the Egyptian Museum that will include artifacts excavated by a Dominican archaeological mission which has been operating in Egypt for about ten years in the Taposiris Magna area in Alexandria, Youm7 reported.

Head of the Museums Sector Elham Salah said that the exhibition is an unprecedented and unique experience as it presents a collection of artifacts for the first time after being found in the area of Taposiris Magna in Alexandria. Salah referred to the importance of the archaeological site dating back to the time of Queen Cleopatra VII.

Salah added that the exhibition includes about 300 artifacts, which are a clear record of daily life, administrative and religious activities, and the royal and social role that emerged at the end of the Ptolemaic period. They have been arranged in the exhibition according to the places of discovery, she pointed out.

Director General of the Egyptian Museum Sabah Abdel Razek explained that one of the most important pieces of the exhibition is a unique painting inscribed with hieroglyphic and demotic writing, reminiscent of the gifts given by Ptolemy the Fifth to the priests of the Isis Temple.

Head of the Dominican mission Kathleen Martinez pointed out that some of the most important signs that Taposiris Magna was a vital location for Queen Cleopatra are that statues of the goddess Isis, coins and paintings with many inscriptions dating back to the era of Cleopatra were found in the site.

The exhibition also includes some distinctive pieces, including a bronze piece in the form of a fly that was dedicated by the king of Ptolemy to a soldier due to his bravery and dedication in battle, and a number of bronze coins inscribed with Isis on the front, and Cleopatra's name on the back.

Martinez said that the discovered pieces so far are a reminder that there is still much to be discovered about the mystery of Cleopatra VII rule as well as the mystery surrounding the burial of many Ptolemaic rulers of her predecessors.

The expedition also found during excavations a large cemetery outside the building of the temple dating back to the Greek Ptolemaic period. Mummies covered with gold were found in the coffins at the cemetery with their heads looking towards the temple as if an important person was buried in the temple.

Martinez believes that Cleopatra and Mark Antonio were buried inside the temple of Isis and Osiris in the area of Taposiris Magna, about 45 km west of Alexandria, due to the religious and political importance of the temple.

During her reign, Cleopatra always linked herself to Isis and linked Mark Antonio to Osiris.

After the death of Alexander the Great, who invaded Egypt in 332 BC and founded the city of Alexandria, the Macedonian state in the Ptolemaic era was established, Martinez said.

Over the course of about 300 years of Ptolemaic rule of Egypt, Egypt flourished culturally and mixed ancient Egyptian and Greek art, religions and languages.

The temples represented after that the main idol Serapis, the god who merged between Apis, Ptah and Osiris in a Hellenistic framework. Isis was always likened to Aphrodite during that era.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Northern Cal. ARCE Lecture May 6 - Egyptian Stories Revealed: The Met's Exciting New Acquisitions

The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter, and the Near Eastern Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley, invite you to attend a lecture by Dr. Diana Craig Patch, Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Egyptian Stories Revealed: The Met's Exciting New Acquisitions

Sunday, May 6, 3 pm

Room 20 Barrows Hall
UC Berkeley Campus

(Near the intersection
of Bancroft Way
and Barrow Lane)

William the Hippopotamus is a mascot of the Met. This image was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About the Lecture:

Many of the objects in the Met's Egyptian collection are old favorites with our visitors:  William, the blue hippo, the exquisite lips of a queen in yellow jasper, the graceful models from Meketre's tomb, or the serene-looking statue of Hatshepsut in indurated limestone.  The stories that these pieces tell about ancient Egypt are well known.  This presentation shares new narratives developed by our curators that were uncovered as they studied a number of recent acquisitions. These fascinating objects open new windows into the ongoing study of ancient Egyptian culture.

About the Speaker: Craig Patch, Lila Acheson Wallace Curator in Charge, is an Egyptologist specializing in archaeology, who received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. During her tenure at the Met, Patch has curated The Dawn of Egyptian Art (2012), an exhibition that demonstrated how Predynastic art contributed to the foundation of Pharaonic culture, and the exhibition Cleopatra's Needle (2013–14), which celebrated the Central Park icon. Additionally, she co-curated the reinstallation of the Predynastic and Early Dynastic gallery (2003). Patch has taught courses at the Institute of Fine Arts, City University of New York, and Rutgers University, and also lectures extensively. For the past thirty-five years, Patch has carried out fieldwork in Egypt and currently is co-director of the Joint Expedition to Malqata—a project for mapping, excavating, and restoring the festival city of Amenhotep III in western Thebes.


Parking is available in U.C. lots after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends for a fee. Ticket dispensing machines accept either $5 bills or $1 bills, and debit or credit cards. The Underhill lot can be entered from Channing way off College Avenue. Parking is also available in lots along Bancroft, and on the circle drive in front of the Valley Life Sciences building.

A map of the campus is available online at

For more information about Egyptology events, go to or

--   Sent from my Linux system.