Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Animal Mummies #2: Animals in the Ancient Egyptian landscape | Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Animal Mummies #2: Animals in the Ancient Egyptian landscape

Exhibitions on Ancient Egypt often favour black or beige as a way to represent either a gloomy/scary concern for death or sandy, washed-out monumental backdrops. ‘Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed’ challenges these notions and opens with an imagined vista of Saqqara at the beginning of the Late Period (c. 750 BC), populated with taxidermy specimens of species that might have been encountered. Contrary to many expectations, there’s a lot of greenery here. We have chosen green – the colour of new life and, importantly, the assurance of renewal after death – as the colour palette throughout the exhibition.

This recreated image shows the area just to the north of Saqqara, near the cultivation, is often referred to as the ‘Lake of Abusir’ and was once much marshier than it is today. This area has been suspected by Egyptologists to have been home to many ibis birds, sacred to the god Thoth, which were mummified as votive offerings to the gods. Much of this and other forms of wildlife have disappeared since ancient times.

Most of the ancient Egyptians worked on the land, and all would have had many more opportunities to observe animal behaviour than most of us do today. Since Predynastic times, the gods were shown as animals, or with animal heads, to illustrate the superhuman power of nature. The Egyptians believed that animals could pass between the worlds of humans and gods. As a result, representations of animals – pictures, statues and mummies – were used to carry messages to the gods.

The evidence of millions of animal mummies – many without a full animal inside – suggests that demand for animals for mummification outstripped supply. Were animals therefore bred specifically for mummification? It is very difficult to locate large areas of animal habitat or even the sites of animal mummy production firmly in the archaeological record – but it seems likely these areas must once have existed. They may be lost because they were close to the river and have since been built on top of or been washed away by the Nile.

Some researchers have claimed to have found evidence of force-feeding birds of prey; however, it is difficult to establish this with certainly based on a single example. Establishing evidence of intentional farming from the mummified remains is difficult, mainly because diseases common in captive populations may not have manifest themselves in the skeletal remains during the relatively short lifespans of the animals. Finding evidence for cause of death, a further aspect of the management of these votive populations, is notoriously difficult to assess using radiography when many mummies have suffered extensive post-mummification damage.

Ultimately, in the absence of archaeological or extensive evidence, our best sources of information are the mummies themselves. The use of non-invasive imaging techniques means that we can recover the maximum amount of information from them, whilst keeping them intact for future research.

Find out more at the Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank

Zaazou follows up on tourism woes in Luxor visit: Ministry official - Daily News Egypt

Zaazou follows up on tourism woes in Luxor visit: Ministry official

Minister’s visit aims to coordinate with Egyptian Travel Agents Association and Chamber of Hotels before October launch of tourism promotion campaign

Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou visited Luxor, Monday, to meet with tourism workers and follow up on hotel occupancy rates before the start of the Egyptian tourism promotional campaign in October.

Ministry sources said the aim of Zaazou’s visit comes within the framework of coordination with the Egyptian Federation of Tourist Chambers and Chamber of Hotels before the promotional campaign’s launch.

The Ministry of Tourism is planning to allocate 25% of the first year of the campaign’s cost to promoting Luxor and Aswan, to increase the occupancy rates in the region.

JWT will begin the promotion campaign in October, according to a ministry official, who added that the date will not change due to the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Hotel capacity in Luxor and Aswan has increased to 21,000 rooms spread over 17,000 rooms in floating hotels and 4,000 rooms in on-land hotels.

Tharwat El-Agamy, Chairman of the Chamber of Tourism Companies and Agencies in Upper Egypt, said the average occupancy rate in the region’s hotels does not exceed 5%. He added he hoped for the rates to increase during the next winter season with the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts.

The Ministry of Tourism has been coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to follow up on the status of foreign tourism agencies, after the deaths of Mexican tourists in the Western Desert earlier this month.

The Ministry of Tourism, according to a ministry official, is working to keep Egypt’s tourism income stable at $7.3bn until the end of this year.

(6) Ministry of Antiquities

Ministry of Antiquities
Press Office
Eldamaty and Reeves visit three tombs in Luxor

Within the framework of the initial examination works performed at King Tut Ankh Amun's Tomb in Luxor to prove the recent hypothesis of the burial place of Qween Nefertity, Both Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty and the British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves visited three tombs in Luxor; King Amenhotep (KV 35), King Horemhab (KV 57) and (KV 55) Tombs.

Eldamaty clarified that the aim behind those visits was for the scientific committee that accompanied them to examine and study their artistic and architectural elements and compare them to those of King Tut Ankh Amun's Tomb.

Eldamaty said that after terminating the initial examination works, there is a great possibility (70%) that there are additional chambers lying behind one of Tut Ankh Amun Tomb's walls and perhaps one of them embraces the burial of Queen Nefertity.

Eldamaty pointed out that the next step is to present the file to the permanent committee of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities to study and determine the future work plan as well as verifying the general specifications of the radar sets that will be used in the examination process, therefore deciding the appropriate methods to safely reach the new chambers.

It was also agreed that Reeves is to return once again to Egypt in mid November to start the actual examination of the tomb after getting all the necessary required approvals.

(c) Ministry of Antiquities, Press Office
Wrote : Gehad Elrawy
Translated by : Eman Hossni

Ancient Luxor tomb reopens in November: minister | Egypt Independent
Horemheb tomb reopens in November: minister
Tue, 29/09/2015 - 15:37

The ancient Pharaonic tomb of Horemheb in Luxor will reopen to visitors on November 4, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said Tuesday during a follow-up tour on the renovation done on the tomb, which is located in the Valley of the Kings.
The minister revealed that the re-inauguration coincides with Luxor’s National Day celebrations, which marks the unearthing of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt’s most celebrated Pharaonic king.
Horemheb was the last king of Ancient Egypt’s 18th Dynasty and was an army commander under Tutankhamun.
Edited translation from DPA

Archaeologist searching for Nefertiti tomb to hold press conference Thursday | Egypt Independent
Archaeologist searching for Nefertiti tomb to hold press conference Thursday
Tue, 29/09/2015 - 14:44
Antiquitites Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty will hold a press conference with British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves Thursday, at the headquarters of the State Information Service.
Reeves will announce the latest developments made in proving his theory that Queen Nefertiti is buried in a secret chamber adjacent to Tutankhamun’s underground tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, southern Egypt.
Damaty stressed that a new archaeological discovery is expected to be made.
Reeves has inspected the tomb as a first step to proving his theory. It will be followed by a series of other steps that include the use of a sophisticated Japanese radar in late November.
Damaty inspected the latest developments in a project to install a new lighting system in other archeological sites in Luxor.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Mexican FM, victims’ family travel to Egypt

Mexican FM, victims' family travel to Egypt


Egypt's army spokesperson declined to comment and said only to refer to the interior ministry statement.

The minister is accompanied by relatives of some of the victims, as well as Mexican physicians and police experts, Egyptian officials said.

Speaking Sunday, Massieu said the vehicles came under "an aerial attack with bombs launched from an airplane and helicopters".

The head of consular protection says that the number of Mexicans killed in the attack may rise to eight.

Her ministry delivered a diplomatic observe to the Egyptian ambassador through which the Mexican authorities expressed its "deep dismay over these deplorable occasions" and demanded an investigation.

Jorge Alvarez Fuentes, Mexico's ambassador to Egypt, and consular representatives were at the Dar el-Fouad Hospital in suburban Cairo, and Alvarez had interviewed five survivors, the Foreign Ministry statement said. It revised its death toll after studying the remains of six victims who had been unaccounted for. "You don't take that which is not yours". Kirby told a daily briefing, "We've seen reports that potentially a USA citizen was injured". Our embassy is reaching out and making the appropriate inquiries.

Speaking to a local radio station in Mexico, Araceli Rangel Davalos, aunt of the demised tourist Rafael Bejarano, defended that the group stalled in a permitted area. She claimed to know the group's guide who was an Egyptology expert named Nabil Altawami.

Amr Imam, a cousin of another of the dead tour guides, Awad Fathi, 41, who also managed a nearby eco-lodge, said authorities had tried to suppress news of the incident until he posted details on social media. The convoy was taking part in an unapproved safari, he said. In the wake of the erroneous attack, they were able to slip away to fight again another day. They were in a permitted area. On this occasion, they didn't stay to camp because that was what was not permitted.

The foreign minister says everyone in Mexico is "very concerned" and "very indignant about the incident". They mistook the convoy for the militants and attacked.

"Throughout decades, specifically during the past ten years, we have lost so many innocent people who were killed by the brutal terrorists", Shourky said in the letter that is expected to be published in a main Mexican newspaper on Wednesday 16/9/2015.

Egyptian army representatives have no comment. The reaction of many tourists actually already in the country or shortly to arrive, appears to have been that they intend to go ahead with their visits. With that advice in place, insurance companies refused to continue covering package tours.

We hold the military junta fully responsible for this crime, and hope the Government of Mexico will support the struggle of our people in its Revolution in Egypt until Egypt is once again a safe, stable, dignified and generous homeland. "I strongly condemn the lack of coordination between the ministry of tourism, in not following up with the events, and the police".

120 artifacts en route to exhibition in Japan | Cairo Post

120 artifacts en route to exhibition in Japan

Artifacts are seen on display at the Egyptian museum - AFP

CAIRO: A shipment of 120 artifacts from the Egyptian Museum are en route to an exhibition in Japan that will open Oct. 16, Youm7 reported.

The artifacts are insured for a value of $138 million.

Japan is a major sponsor of antiquities preservation in Egypt, and a major funder of the Grand Egyptian Museum that is scheduled to open in 2016.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced in August 2014 it would develop a training program for Egyptian archaeologists and antiquity conservators working in the Grand Egyptian Museum.

“Such training will improve and develop the skills of excavators and restorers, enabling them to better their work in the field and archaeological sites,” Chairman of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) archaeologist Tarek Tawfik told The Cairo Post in August 2014.

Egyptian minister believes hidden chamber may not contain Queen Nefertiti - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online
Egyptian minister believes hidden chamber may not contain Queen Nefertiti
Nevine El-Aref, from Luxor, Tuesday 29 Sep 2015
Egypt’s minister of antiquities posits that the hidden chamber behind Tutankhamun’s tomb’s northern wall could be of his mother Kiya

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty opposes part of the theory of British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, who claims that a hidden chamber located behind the tomb’s northern wall could be Queen Nefertiti’s resting place.

Eldamaty suggests that the chamber could belong to his mother, Queen Kiya, and not his stepmother, Queen Nefertiti, for two reasons.

The first reason, according to the minister, is that when Tutankhamun came to the throne, Nefertiti was already deceased. Secondly, when Tutanakhmun restored the cult of Amun and abandoned his father’s monotheistic religion, leaving the Aten capital Akhtaten to Thebes, he certainly would have taken his mother Kiya with him.

Eldamaty explained to Ahram Online that Tutankhamun’s unexpected death prompted the Valley of the Kings’ priests to search for an already complete tomb to bury him in, as they only had 70 days to place his mummy in its final resting place. "Kiya’s tomb was an ideal choice," Eldamaty suggested.

Eldamaty asserted that they may have selected a completed tomb of one of his family members, such as Kiya’s, taking a section of her tomb and dedicating it to Tutankhamun.

He added that an extension was possibly built in order to house the number of shrines made for him, replacing the several antechambers that are normally found in a royal tomb.

Eldamaty also rejected the suggestion that the second hidden chamber could be an antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb or a hidden gallery of his treasured collection, explaining that the collection would not be hidden, as the whole tomb would be sealed off after the funerary rituals.

Eldamaty, Reeves, and the scientific committee are to embark Tuesday on a second trip to the Valley of the Kings, but this time to inspect three tombs of royals who were alive in Tutanakhmun’s era: King and military commander Horemhab, King Akhenaten’s brother King Smenkare, and Amenhotep III.

The aim of such a visit is to study the features of the tomb and compare them with those of Tutankhamun’s. These features include ceilings, wall paintings, and the location of the magic bricks that contain amulets, which protect the deceased against the enemies of the god Osiris.

What it's like to visit Egypt now as a 1st-time tourist - StamfordAdvocate

What it's like to visit Egypt now as a 1st-time tourist

Updated 12:11 pm, Monday, September 28, 2015

Tourists drawn to hot springs, natural beauty of Egypt's remote Siwa Oasis - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East


إقرأ باللغة العربية

نبض مصر

A view showing the remains of Shali castle in the old city of Siwa, Feb. 4, 2002. (photo by REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby)

Tourists drawn to hot springs, natural beauty of Egypt's remote Siwa Oasis

The Siwa Oasis is located 820 kilometers (510 miles) from the capital, between Cairo and the Egyptian-Libyan border. The eastern gate to the Amazigh lands, it is also known as the Palm Land, called Sekht-am by the pharaohs. Its hot springs are one of the best regarded tourist destinations in the world.

SummaryPrint Located near Egypt's western border with Libya, the Siwa Oasis offers visitors everything from healing hot springs and a nature preserve to archaeological treasures.
Author Omar al-Naghy Posted September 24, 2015
TranslatorJoelle El-Khoury

Yet, what most Egyptians and visiting tourists do not know is that most of isolated Siwa, which sits at 18 meters (59 feet) below sea level, is a virgin oasis unpolluted by urbanism nor exploited by businessmen. In addition to the therapeutic sulfur-rich springs and sand baths, Siwa is also a site for cultural and archaeological tourism.

The Siwa Oasis’ indigenous people are the Berber tribes, which are scattered in several countries, from Siwa to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Sahara to the south. Historically, they are North Africa’s indigenous population. Egypt’s Amazigh are concentrated at the oasis, where they number about 25,000 people.

Al-Monitor traveled to the oasis to tour the less-known attractions of Siwa. The first thing that catches the eye is the 50-meter conical Gebel al-Mawta (Arabic for "The Mountain of the Dead"). It features beehive-shaped stone tombs from the 26 pharaonic and Ptolemaic dynasties and a mixture of pharaonic and Greek designs.

On the southern outskirts of the oasis, on the opposite side of Gebel al Mawta, stands Gebel Dakrour (Dakrour Mountain). It is renowned for the healing qualities of its hot sands, a destination for sufferers of rheumatism, arthritis, skin diseases, and joint and spinal pain. The sand baths are packed with these visitors in June, July and August.

Cleopatra’s Bath, called the Spring of the Sun by the historian Herodotus, is just south of the Siwa Oasis. This is where Queen Cleopatra was said to have swum during her visits to the oasis. The natural hot spring pool has been lined with stones. It naturally refills itself and the overflow irrigates 840 square kilometers (324 square miles) of cultivated land.

Most of the tourist attractions and the majority of the population of the oasis are scattered in its outskirts, except for a tiny village at the center of Siwa. It hosts a number of shops, government and administrative bodies and a small transportation station. Tourists can rent bicycles or three-wheelers to get around inside the oasis.

On the way back to the village from Cleopatra’s Bath lie the remains of the Temple of Amun, also known as the Temple of Umm Ubayda, on the palm-lined asphalt road. It is the temple where Alexander the Great is said to have consulted Amun in 331 B.C., asking whether he would rule the world.

The Temple of Amun, built by Nectanebo II, was dedicated to Amun's worship. The largest part of the temple was destroyed in late 1990s, when the governor of Siwa used gunpowder to loosen its stones to build a police station, the Great Mosque and other buildings. Some stones bearing ancient inscriptions remain.

The Revelation Temple, also known as the Temple of Amun, stands nearby on Aghurmi Hill. This is where Alexander the Great is said to have been honored as an Egyptian god after he received the prophecy that he would indeed rule the world.

This temple, built by the 26th pharaonic dynasty, bears the fingerprints of four ages: the pharaonic, Greek, Roman and Islamic. It includes a mosque and a minaret, rooms for the pharaonic priests, corridors and a lobby that was built for Alexander the Great’s coronation and reception, a sacred well and Roman walls. It is divided into pharaonic, Ptolemaic and Islamic sections.

The top of the pharaonic section of the temple is decorated with Siwa Oasis scenes, including houses, saltwater lakes and surrounding green palm trees. On top of the minaret, in the Islamic section, there are depictions of other monuments, mountains, lakes and palms.

In the village lie the remains of the Shali castle, which was built by the people of the oasis in the 12th century to counter attacks by Arab and Bedouin tribes. It was made of kerchief, which is a saline stone found in saltwater and mud lakes. The castle was destroyed in the 13th century, and its ruins have since been worn away by rainfall and occasional floods.

Fatnis Island, also known as the Fantasy Island, is located 12 kilometers from the town, in the western part of the oasis. Surrounded by saltwater lakes and palm trees, it is a favorite place to swim for residents and visitors and boasts the most magical sunset in Egypt.

Safari adventures abound in the Siwa oasis. The Great Sand Sea covers more than 72,000 square kilometers and is home to the world's third-largest sand dunes. One of them, at 140 kilometers high, is considered one of the world's best sites for sandboarding.

Those exhausted by traveling in the desert will regain their energy in the Great Sand Sea's natural hot spring Bir Wahed, where the water is hot throughout the year, and at a lake that is always cold.

An area of 7,800 kilometers of the Siwa Oasis’ total 55,000 kilometers was declared an open nature reserve in 2002 to protect the cultural and animal diversity, many lakes and more than 1,000 springs. The area is also home to olive groves and palm tree gardens containing nearly 300,000 palm trees, 70,000 olive trees and fruit orchards. Limited types of other crops are cultivated there.

All these treasures make Siwa Oasis a top destination for tourists looking for everything from a peaceful nature adventure to natural therapy.

Omar al-Naghy
Contributor,  Egypt Pulse

Omar al-Naghy is a journalist and media researcher. He worked at several newspapers and news websites, including al-Masri al-Yaum, Addustour and Masrawy, in addition to working as editorial secretary at

23 years and millions of dollars later, will the Grand Egyptian Museum ever open? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East


إقرأ باللغة العربية

نبض مصر

Construction is underway at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, Egypt, Aug. 25, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

23 years and millions of dollars later, will the Grand Egyptian Museum ever open?

CAIRO — In 1992, the Egyptian government announced the launch of a project to establish the Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids of Giza, in cooperation with the Belgian BESIX Group. The museum would cover a surface area of 117 acres, at an estimated cost of $550 million and a capacity to hold 100,000 archaeological pieces, making it one of the most prestigious museums in the world.

SummaryPrint The Grand Egyptian Museum project has been stalled since its announcement in 1992, although the Egyptian authorities believe the museum will boost tourism.
Author Khalid Hassan Posted September 28, 2015
TranslatorPascale Menassa

It was to be an unparalleled archaeological site that would send a message to the world that Egyptians value construction, civilization and heritage, instead of supporting destruction. The museum would house 100,000 pieces from Pharaonic, Greek and Roman eras, and it would expand the Egyptian job market by creating real employment opportunities for the youth and by reviving the tourist industry. With these words, the government launched its marketing campaign for the project in early 1992.

On Jan. 10, 2012, two decades after the museum project was announced, former Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim made a press statement to explain the delay in opening it as scheduled in mid-2012. He also announced that the cost of completing the museum increased by $150 million, due to the economic recession Egypt witnessed as a result of the revolution, thus reaching a total of $700 million — a sum the government was unable to secure.

Ibrahim said that the delay was due to the security chaos in the country in the wake of the January 25 Revolution, and he asserted that the museum would open its doors in 2015, at the latest. However, this was later refuted.

Current Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty made statements to the press on Aug. 14, 2014, announcing that the inauguration would be put off until early 2018. He admitted that problems with funding and its shortfall are hindering the opening on the scheduled date.

An archaeologist at the Grand Egyptian Museum, Saeed Mohammad, told Al-Monitor that the real reasons behind the delay stem from serious negligence indicating that the Ministry of Antiquities and the museum management do not realize the importance of this extensive site.

Mohammad said, “In June 2009, the Ministry of Antiquities bought an X-ray machine designed to the specifications of the museum’s management to be used for technical purposes to examine the pieces. The machine cost 7 million Egyptian pounds [$893,837]. Although this machine needs a special control room with certain technical specifications to avoid exposing the renovators and archaeologists to [the risk of radiation-induced] cancer, the museum’s administration refused to build the room and left the machine unused.”

He added, “Another device called the scanning electron microscope costs 9 million Egyptian pounds [$1.1 million] and aims to analyze samples of antiquities to technically examine them and determine their type. Years ago it broke and it wasn’t fixed. I was chosen to work at the Grand Egyptian Museum 12 years ago; I worked at the ministry before that. Throughout these 12 years I dreamt of seeing this huge project come to life. But I became frustrated because the minister would give a new date for the inauguration every time and it would be delayed. I lost hope in completing this project.”

Mohammad blamed the delay on “bureaucracy and extreme negligence in the museum department at the Ministry of Antiquities.” He asks of the Egyptian government “to give more attention to the project and consider it part of Egyptian national security, as it affects the economy and Egypt’s image in the eyes of the world.”

Tarek Tawfik, general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum project, told Al-Monitor, “The X-ray machine does not work and its cost has gone to waste because the rays that it emits are stronger than the place needs. There are currently negotiations to transfer it to another institution in the country that could benefit from it.” He did not specify which institution could benefit from the machine.

Tawfik added that the scanning electron microscope was out of order, but is now highly efficient.

To avoid bureaucracy and negligence, former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass, suggested in an interview Jan. 30 to put the Grand Egyptian Museum under US or British management to overcome governmental bureaucracy that has put the inauguration on hold for years.

Tawfik discussed with Al-Monitor the reasons behind the delay and the problems facing the museum and said, “The cost of establishing the museum was divided into two parts — a Japanese loan worth $300 million and another part that the Egyptian state would pay. But the chaos in Egypt led to an increase in the cost, and it became more difficult to provide resources in light of the economic recession and a decline in tourism."

He added, “As a result, we had to take it slow, but we are still committed to opening the museum partially in mid-2018. This part includes a large stadium, Egyptian sculptures and the complete Tutankhamun collection. This is a first of its kind, and it will attract tourists from around the world.” 

Regarding the Japanese loan, Tawfik said, “So far, Japan has not approved another loan. We are still negotiating in order to complete the museum.” He asserted that in case Japan rejects the request, there are other offers from many other countries, without mentioning which ones. Tawfik did not disclose the loan value that Egypt needs.

It is worth noting that the project was not put up for bidding, but Japan proposed funding the project.

He added that in case Japan does not provide the necessary funding, the government will launch a global donation campaign to contribute to building the museum, which will serve the entire world, not just Egypt.

At the end of the conversation, Tawfik said, “The Ministry of Antiquities and the Egyptian government are determined to move forward with this global project. The ministry will not spare any efforts to inaugurate the museum on the set date with no further delays.”

Khalid Hassan
Contributor,  Egypt Pulse

Khalid Hassan is a freelance journalist who has worked for several Egyptian newspapers since graduating from Ain Shams University in 2010. Specializing in politics and investigative journalism, he has completed several investigative reports for Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism.