Saturday, January 20, 2018

News, Luxor: Searching for The Tomb of Tutankhamun's Wife Ankhesenamun

A team of archaeologists led by Zahi Hawass may be closing in on the resting place of the boy king's wife. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
An Egyptian archaeological mission led by renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass began excavation work in the Valley of the Monkeys, a section of the Valley of the Kings on Luxor’s west bank, to search for an 18th Dynasty tomb “probably” of the wife of the boy king Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun.

Mostafa Wazir, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities told Ahram Online that the team is working in the area near the tomb of king Ay, the successor of king Tutankhamun, in search of a yet unidentified 18th Dynasty tomb. He pointed out that in 2010 the team uncovered in this area four foundation deposits which suggest the existence of a tomb. According to ancient Egyptian traditions, he asserted, such deposits have to be dug after the completion of any tomb but digging deposits before the construction of any temple.

Renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass told Ahram Online that in 2010 the team has unearthed inside these deposits a collection of knives and clay pots from the reign of king Amenhotep III, the father of the monotheistic king Akhenatun and the grandfather of the golden king Tutankhamun. “This suggests that the tomb could belong to one of Tutankhamun’s family members, probably his wife Ankhesenamun,” Hawass told Ahram Online. He added that radar survey carried out earlier has detected the existence of an anomaly five meters below the ground level. Some suggest that it could be the entrance of a tomb.

"Until excavations were conducted, archaeologists couldn't be certain of the tomb's existence. And if so we do not know for sure to whom it belongs," Hawass said, adding that "it could be anything, until we excavate." Ankhesenamun was the wife of Tutankhamun but married Ay not long after Tutankhamun’s death. Due to the location of the evidence, Hawass and his team think that any undiscovered tomb may belong to her. The Valley of the Monkeys, also known as the Western Valley, earned its name from local inhabitants because of the walls paintings which king Ay’s tomb, which depict 12 monkeys.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Discovery, Al-Alamein: 1st Century Tomb Discovered in Northern Egypt's Al-Alamein

An Egyptian archaeological mission working at an archaeological site in Al-Alamein on the northern coast has discovered a rock-hewn tomb that dates to the first and second centuries AD. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The discovery was made during an archaeological survey carried out ahead of infrastructure work in New Alamein City.

Naema Sanad, director-general of the Marina archaeological site and head of the mission, told Ahram Online that the tomb contains of a staircase engraved in rock that leads to the main chamber of the tomb, whose walls hold a number of burial holes called “Locauli.”

Sanad says that the southern wall of the tomb is adorned with a Greek religious and artistic decoration called the “welfare horn,” which depicts a horn with a basin decorated with flowers and tree leaves. To the right of the tomb’s entrance is another chamber that was added during a later period.

Eman Abdel-Khaleq, senior inspector of the site, pointed out that the mission has discovered many artefacts in the tomb, including a collection of coins dating to the period when the tomb was built in addition to many pottery vessels and two lamps.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Short Story: Living Through The Past

The values that built Egypt’s ancient civilisation are still very much in evidence today, writes Hussein Bassir.

Civilisation began in Egypt’s Nile Valley and Delta. The ancient Egyptians, the builders of this unique civilisation, were distinguished for their skill, perseverance, calmness, forbearance, faith and tolerance.

Egypt is also a meeting place for civilisations, a crucible for cultural exchange, and an object of desire for invaders throughout its long history. The names given to the land have been numerous. The name Egypt comes from the ancient term Hutkaptah, meaning “temple of the soul of Ptah”, the god of the ancient capital Memphis. The ancient Egyptians belonged to both the Semitic and Hamitic peoples.

The written story of Egypt begins around 3000 BC. When the legendary king Menes unified Upper Egypt (the south) and Lower Egypt (the Delta) and established a centralised state around 3000 BC, values and standards were introduced that still govern the state of Egypt today.

Egypt then entered the period of the Old Kingdom, the age of the Pyramids, which lasted from 2686 to 2160 BC. During this time, the Egyptians built the Pyramids at Giza and Saqqara, and carved the statue of the Great Sphinx on the Giza Plateau, which represented the Pharaoh Khafre, builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. These magnificent monuments bear witness to the archaeological, engineering, astronomical and administrative skills of the ancient Egyptians.

After this golden age, Egypt entered a period of decline, before emerging as a powerful force in the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC), the age of Egyptian classical literature. Following this second golden age, the country embarked on the most difficult period in its ancient history, namely the occupation by foreign tribes known as Hyksos, meaning “rulers of foreign lands”.

These crept over the country’s eastern borders and took control of large parts of the land when the Egyptian state was weak. After a long and bitter struggle, the Upper Egyptian Pharaoh Ahmose I (1550-1525 BC) managed to expel the Hyksos from Egypt by driving them into neighbouring Palestine. The New Kingdom, the final golden age of ancient Egypt, was now established.

Egypt adopted a new foreign policy based on expansion and foreign conquest and brought numerous other powers under its control. This period, which lasted until 1069 BC, is known as the age of empire. Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) is considered the founder of the Egyptian Empire in Asia and Africa, while other famous Pharaohs of this age include Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, Seti I, Ramses II and Ramses III….. READ MORE. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Re-Opening, Cairo: Egyptian Monuments Reopen

Three Mameluke monuments in Islamic Cairo are to be reopened to the public after restoration. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref. 
Three Mameluke-period monuments, the Al-Muayyedi Bimaristan, the Tekkeyet Al-Bustami and the Darb Al-Laban Gate in Islamic Cairo are to be reopened to the public next week after restoration work.

A Bimaristan is a Mameluke hospital, while a tekkeya is a Sufi charitable building. The buildings have been shrouded in scaffolding for the past three years as restoration work continues, with it being slated to finally come off next week.

The monuments, like others in heavily populated areas, were suffering from environmental dangers, including air pollution, high subsoil water levels, high levels of humidity, water leakage, the effects of a decayed sewerage system installed 100 years ago, and the adverse effects of the 1992 earthquake that increased the number of cracks in their walls, leading in some cases to partial collapse. 

“One of the most serious causes of the damage to the buildings has been encroachment from the monuments’ neighbours who used the tekkeya for example as a residential building and the bimaristan as a garbage dump,” Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project that supervised the work, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said the walls of the three monuments had cracked and partly collapsed, masonry was damaged, and the condition of the ceilings was critical. Decorations were heavily damaged and several parts were missing, while most of the flooring was broken.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany said the restoration had been carried out according to the latest scientific methods. “Every effort was made to ensure that all the original architectural features were retained,” he said, adding that the restoration of the buildings had had important advantages in that individual monuments were being preserved for future generations and the entire neighbourhood was being revived and upgraded.

Abdel-Aziz said that the aim of the restoration was mainly to strengthen and consolidate the monuments and protect them from future damage. The walls were reinforced, cracks were treated, façades were consolidated, missing and decayed stones were replaced, and masonry was cleaned and desalinated. Tilted pillars and walls were readjusted to their original positions, broken woodwork was re-installed and missing parts were replaced with others of the same shape, size and material.

The ceilings were consolidated and insulated with special material to prevent the leakage of rainwater into the monuments. A special system was also designed to accumulate rainwater in one place and feed it into the main sewage system.

The areas surrounding the three monuments were cleaned, restored and upgraded in order to be venues hosting cultural events as well as for holding workshops to raise the cultural awareness of their inhabitants.


The Al-Muayyedi Bimaristan was built by one of the most important Circassian Mameluke sultans to rule Egypt, Al-Muayyad Sheikh Al-Mahmoudi, who reigned between 1418 and 1420 CE. The Bimaristan is the second public hospital still remaining from the period after that of the Mameluke sultan Qalawun built in 1284 in Al-Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo…. READ MORE.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Discovery, Sharqiya: Ramses II Stelae Uncovered at San Al-Hagar Site

The newly discovered stelae
San Al-Hagar is a very distinguished archaeological site houses a vast collection of temples, among them temples dedicated to the goddess Mut, god Horus and god Amun. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

During work carried out at San Al-Hagar archaeological site in Sharqiya governorate with a view to develop the site into an open-air museum, archaeologists stumbled upon a stelae of 19th Dynasty King Ramses II.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the stelae is carved in red granite and depicts King Ramses II presenting offerings to a yet unidentified ancient Egyptian deity. 


Part of the development work & Waziri examining the stelae
He said that although several foreign missions have worked on the site, it has never been completely excavated and was neglected.

“This discovery encourages the Ministry of Antiquities to start a comprehensive development project at the site in order to rescue its monuments and transform it into an open-air museum,” Waziri added.

San Al-Hagar is a very distinguished archaeological site houses a vast collection of temples, among them temples dedicated to the goddess Mut, god Horus and god Amun. Several foreign missions, among them a French mission, have worked on the site since the mid-19th century.

Waadalla Abul Ela, head of the ministry's projects sector, explained that a project started a month ago aims to create a collection of concrete mastaba for the monumental blocks, statues and stelae that were laying on the floor of the temple.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Discovery, Alexandria: 'Distinguished' Greco-Roman Tombstone Unearthed at Alexandria Cemetery

The tombstone, which was found at the Al-Abd archaeological site, is decorated with scenes and inscriptions on a flat background representing the facade of an ancient Egyptian temple. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

An Egyptian archaeological mission has unearthed the remains of several Greco-Roman tombs, including a "distinguished" tombstone, in the eastern cemetery of the ancient city of Alexandria.

The archaeologists made the finds at the Al-Abd site, which falls within the Hellenistic cemetery, located on Alexandria's sea shore.

Mostafa Waziri Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said that the remains include a collection of offering vessels, and lamps decorated with scenes of Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman deities.

“But the most important item of this discovery is a very distinguished tombstone that was once used to close one of the cemetery's burial shafts,” Waziri told Ahram Online.

He explained that the tombstone is decorated with scenes and inscriptions made of a mixture of sand and lime on a flat background representing the facade of an ancient Egyptian temple. The scenes depict a staircase leading to the entrance of the temple and two columns holding up the entrance’s roof. The staircase leads to a set of double doors, one of which is half-open and bears a winged sun-disk decoration, he said.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, said that this tombstone is an evolution of the idea of a false door to mislead thieves, drawing them away from the real door of the tomb. The false-door idea was widespread in Ancient Egypt.

The newly discovered tombstone, which was in a poor condition, is now undergoing restoration. The Al-Abd site is located within the eastern cemetery of the ancient city of Alexandria, which contains a number of burials dating back to the Hellenistic era.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Discovery, Sohag: Fragment of Black Granite Statue of King Amenhotep III Discovered in Sohag Parking Lot

The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of an artifact in a parking lot in Akhmim, Sohag governorate, during a drilling operation to develop the site.

The ministry said in a statement on Monday that the archaeological committee, which was formed under the chairmanship of Gamal Abdel Nasser, confirmed that the piece found in the parking is an official historical artifact.

The discovered piece is part of a black granite statue of King Amenhotep III from the Eighteenth Dynasty, said Abdel Nasser.

Preliminary examination showed that the statue depicts the with his left foot forward, a tradition commonly employed while building statues of ancient Egyptian kings, said Abdel Nasser.

On his right foot, are hieroglyphic writings which represent the coronation and birth names of King Amenhotep III, he added. The artifact was transferred to Sohag Museum for restoration.

Monday, January 8, 2018

News, Aswan: Ministry of Antiquities Extends Opening Hours at Edfu and Kom-Ombo Temples

The two temples will close an hour later during the winter due to lower River Nile water levels, which delay the arrival of cruise boats. Written BY/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Ministry of Antiquities is to extend the official opening hours of the Edfu and Kom-Ombo temples in Aswan during the winter months, starting on Saturday.

Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the decision was taken in cooperation with the governorate of Aswan in response to the delayed arrival of cruise boats at both temples due to a drop in water levels on the River Nile. The move also reflects the ministry’s keenness to provide high-quality services to tourists, he said.

The opening hours for the Edfu temple will be extended to 5 pm every day, instead of 4 pm. The temple at Kom-Ombo, meanwhile, will remain open until 9 pm, instead of 8 pm.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Recovered Artifacts, USA: Egyptian Mummy Fragments to Be Recovered From New York

Ancient Egyptian Mummies remains has been recovered from the United States. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is set to recover from the US three fragments from three different mummies that had been stolen and smuggled out of Egypt in the early 20th century.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, supervisor-general of the ministry’s Repatriation Department, told Ahram Online that the fragments were seized in Manhattan when their owner tried to sell them.

Abdel-Gawad says that the fragments, which are in a very good conservation condition, consist of two hands and a head from three mummies.

The fragments had been bought by an American citizen in 1927 from an antiquities worker who stole them from an illegal excavation at an archaeological site in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

The ministry has authenticated the fragments, which are being recovered in accordance with Egyptian Antiquities law number 117/1983 and its amendment number 3 for 2010.


“The fragments are now in the possession of American authorities, and will be handed over to the Egyptian embassy on 8 January at a large celebration in New York,” Abdel-Gawad said.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Discovery, Kafr El-Sheikh: Remains of Royal Ancient Egyptian Artefacts Uncovered in Tel Al-Pharaeen

At least one of the pieces uncovered in Kafr El-Sheikh dates to the reign of King Psamtik I. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

An Egyptian excavation mission has discovered remains of mud-brick walls and several artefacts that can be dated to different periods of the ancient Egyptian era as well as four furnaces from the Late Period (664-332 BCE) during excavation work carried out in Tel Al-Pharaeen archeological site known as “ancient Buto” in the Kafr Al-Sheikh Governorate.

Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that studies on the walls' remains suggested that it could possibly represent the main ancient axis of the Buto temple, and the furnaces may have been used for the preparation of the offerings presented to deities inside the temple.

He continued that the mission has also uncovered the foundation of two limestone columns that may had once have been part of the temple’s hall of pillars, in addition to a limestone statue of King Psamtik I seated on the throne and holding the royal handkerchief in his right hand. The upper part of the statue is damaged, Ashmawy noted.
A part of a yet unidentified royal statue has also been found but preliminary examination suggests that it too could belong to King Psamtik I. The statue is skillfully carved in black granite. It is missing the head, neck, and a segment below the knee, as well as the base and parts of the arms. It depicts the king wearing the Shendit (royal kilt). Both statues and their fragments were transferred to the stores of the ministry for conservation and restoration.

On his part, Hossam Ghoneim, head of the excavation mission, said that the mission uncovered the upper part of a statue of the god Hur engraved in quartzite, remains of an inscription bearing the name of the Buto, part of a granite royal hand with the remains of a royal cartouche of King Psamtik I, part of a Menit Necklace (the symbol of goddess Hathor), as well as a collection of pottery.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

News: Grand Egyptian Museum Receives First $1,000 Donation From Tourist in New Funding Drive

American tourist John Robert Massi handed over $1,000 toward the construction of the new museum and was rewarded with a tour of the site. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Ministry of Antiquities has announced its first donation in response to a new campaign to help fund ongoing construction work at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The gift of $1,000 was made by American tourist John Robert Massi, who arrived in Egypt on Wednesday to embark on an inspection tour of the GEM site.

Tarek Tawfik, Supervisor-General of the GEM, told Ahram Online that Massi was impressed by the construction work and the state-of-the-art laboratories. He told Tawfik that he hopes to return to Egypt for the museum's soft opening in 2018.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Short Story: A Year of Many Discoveries

Egyptian and foreign Egyptologists excavating at archaeological sites across Egypt have made more than 30 discoveries this year, reports Nevine El-Aref.
Coincidence has always played a major role in making new discoveries. Among the most famous examples are the uncovering of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, the funerary collection of the Pharaoh Khufu’s mother Hetepheres, the Pyramids Builders’ Cemetery on the Giza Plateau, and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in the Bahareya Oasis.

This year, coincidence led to the discovery of more than 30 treasures, something which made the Ministry of Antiquities describe 2017 as “the year of discoveries”.

“It seems that our ancient Egyptian ancestors are bestowing their blessings on Egypt’s economy, as these discoveries are good for the country and its tourism industry,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said that many new discoveries had been made. In the Gabal Al-Selsela area in Aswan, 20 tombs were discovered by a team from Lund University in Sweden, for example, while in Luxor an Egyptian-Japanese mission discovered the tomb of a royal scribe.

An Egyptian-German mission in Matareya outside Cairo made international headlines when it discovered fragments of a colossal statue of the Pharaoh Psamtick I.

An Egyptian mission from the Ministry of Antiquities discovered the inner parts of a pyramid from the 13th Dynasty, as well as the remains of a burial that would once have been inside the pyramid.

At the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, a mission from Cairo University stumbled upon a cachette of non-royal mummies of men, women and children buried in catacombs eight metres below ground level in the desert neighbouring the local bird and animal necropolis.

“This discovery has changed our understanding of the Tuna Al-Gabal site,” El-Enany told the Weekly, adding that in Luxor several other important discoveries had been made. An Egyptian-European mission working at the Colossi of Memnon and the funerary temple of Amenhotep III had uncovered 136 statues of the goddess Sekhmet, most of which are life-size, as well as a beautiful alabaster statue of queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep, carved on the side of a colossal statue of the king.

A team from Jaen University in Spain also discovered the tomb of an official in Aswan. A Spanish mission in western Thebes discovered the remains of a funerary garden, a first in the area’s history.

A mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon the almost-intact funerary collections of Amenemhat, the goldsmith of the god Amun-Re, and of Userhat, chancellor of Thebes during the 18th Dynasty, in the Draa Abul-Naga Necropolis at Luxor. The mission also uncovered two yet-unidentified tombs that are particularly rich in their funerary collections.

“These finds are not only a matter of luck, but are the result of the hard work of archaeologists across the country working in sometimes very difficult conditions,” El-Enany said. “Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” he added, remarking that news of new discoveries always catches the headlines and the attention of the whole world.

TOMB DISCOVERIES: Among these discoveries were the three major ones made by the Egyptian mission in the Draa Abul-Nagaa Necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, which provide a better understanding of the history of the Necropolis and the lives of the tomb-owners.

The tomb of Userhat housed a collection of ten well-preserved painted wooden coffins and eight mummies in various states of preservation, for example. A collection of more than 1,000 ushabti figurines and wooden masks were also uncovered alongside with skeletons, wooden anthropoid masks, figurines in faience, terracotta and wood and various clay pots.

Archaeologist Sherine Shawki, a specialist in osteology, told the Weekly that early studies carried out on the mummies and skulls had revealed that one of the individuals had been anaemic and probably suffered severe toothache while a second had undergone primitive surgery.

The tomb of the goldsmith houses a collection of stone-and-wood ushabti figurines of different types and sizes, mummies, painted and anthropoid wooden sarcophagi, and jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones.....READ MORE.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

News, Cairo: Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities to Restore Islamic Cairo's Al-Sharaybi Bathhouse

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities will restore the Al-Sharaybi bathhouse in Islamic Cairo in collaboration with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director-general of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, told Ahram Online that the restoration project is funded by a grant from the Prince Claus Foundation.

Abdel-Aziz explains that the restoration project will be executed in two phases. The first will include the removal of all dust and garbage accumulated around the site and the consolidation of the bathhouse walls from inside and outside as well as the oven area, while the second phase will include the restoration of the building and its decorative elements.

The Al-Sharaybi bathhouse was constructed during the rule of Sultan Qonsua El-Ghouri in 1500 AD and is located in the El-Ghouria area. The Moroccan trader Mohamed Dada Al-Sharaybi was the original owner of the bathhouse.

Friday, December 22, 2017

News, Giza: Chariot and Clothes of Egypt's Tutankhamun Transported to GEM

The collection of King Tutankhamun is being transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) ahead of its soft opening in 2018. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is receiving another three artefacts of the King Tutankhamun collection — a chariot and two of his shirts, from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

The collection of King Tutankhamun is being transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) ahead of its soft opening in 2018.

Tarek Tawfiq supervisor general of the GEM, told Ahram Online that the chariot is the third to be transported to the GEM. 

Tutankhamun had six chariots. He explained that the move comes within the framework of an Egyptian-Japanese project between the Ministry of Antiquities and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to pack and transport 71 artefacts now on display at the Egyptian Museum to their new permanent exhibition spaces in the GEM.

Tawfik said that among the 71 artefacts was a collection of reliefs of founder of the ancient Fourth Dynasty Senefru and a collection of 65 objects from Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, including three funerary beds, five chariots and 57 pieces of textile.

Director of first-aid restoration at the GEM, Eissa Zidan, said the restoration team had consolidated the wooden surfaces of the chariot as well as weak points in joint areas. The chariot, he said, was packed and transported as one item with the chair of the throne.

Zidan pointed out that the artefacts were padded with special materials to absorb any vibrations during transportation. State-of-the-art technology and modern scientific techniques had been used in order to guarantee the safe lifting and moving of the chariot from its display case at the Egyptian Museum. The team had also used acid-free packing materials.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

News, Cairo: Egyptian Museum Displays Works of Deir Al-Medina Artisans

The month-long exhibition, which marks the centenary of French excavations at Deir Al-Medina, opens on Thursday night. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square opens a temporary exhibition on Thursday night focused on the artisans of Luxor's Deir Al-Medina archaeological site.

Titled “The Artisans of the Pharaohs through their Artworks”, the month-long show also marks the centenary of French archaeological research, excavation and restoration at the site.

On show for the first time will be a collection of 52 artefacts discovered by the French mission at Deir Al-Medina, along with documents and photos from the archive of the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale (IFAO), Elham Salah, head of the museums sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online.


The artifacts, she explains, reflect the daily life, the faith and the funerary rituals of the Deir Al-Medina artisans. Among the most important objects are a statue of Sanejem, lintels of kings Amenhotep I and II, as well as a painted limestone ostraca.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

News, South Sinai: St Catherine's Library and Mosaic of Transfiguration inaugurated after restoration

Work on restoring the library of St Catherine's Monastery began in 2014. Written By / Nevine El-Aref.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, South Sinai Governor Major General Khaled Fouda, and St Catherine's Monastery Archbishop Dimetriose have inaugurated the first phase of the St Catherine's Library conservation project, including restoration of the Mosaic of Transfiguration.

The opening ceremony was attended by a number of ministers along with members of parliament and ambassadors of foreign countries in Egypt, as well as representatives of Pope Tawadros II and Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb.

El-Enany described St Catherine's as "a source of inspiration that radiated across civilisation, both regionally and globally." He added: "St Catherine's Monastery combines Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is what we could call the genius of Egypt and its reflection on the harmony between its components and its great people."

The monastery was registered as a world heritage site since 2002. "I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the distinguished audience and would also like to express my great gratitude to all those who contributed to this work and to your generous support,” El-Enany said. 

“I am very happy to share in the inauguration of the restored library, which is the third library ever in the world,” Major General Fouda said in a press conference held at the monastery today.

Mohamed Abdellatif, assistant to the minister of antiquities and head of the Coptic and Islamic Antiquities sector at the ministry, told Ahram Online that conservation work was carried out under the supervision of the ministry with funds provided by the monastery.

The restoration project began in 2014 after approval of the Permanent Committee of Islamic and Coptic Antiquities. It includes the development of the eastern side of the library, upgrading the architecture of the library facade as well as consolidating and conserving the Justinian Wall, which dates back to the 6th century AD.

Abdellatif pointed out that the ministry announced a month ago that during conservation work restorers uncovered the "Palmist" manuscript, which dates back to the fifth or sixth century AD. 

It is a manuscript written on leather and shows medical texts from Hippocrates, as well as three other medical texts by an unknown writer. As for the Mosaic of Transfiguration, he explained that an Italian-Egyptian team headed by Italian expert Nardi Guviani carried out restoration of the Mosaic.

Ahmed Al-Nimr, a member of the Scientific Office of the ministry of antiquities, said that the mosaic is one of the oldest and most beautiful and largest mosaics in the Middle East. It dates to the ninth century AD. It covers a surface of about 46 square metres, painted with precious materials such as gold and silver.

The mosaic includes an image of Jesus and the prophet Elijah and the prophet Moses. Below, the prophets John and Jacob prostrate. The mosaic is surrounded by 31 medallions containing pictures of messengers and prophets, in addition to two medallions representing Jonah and the Virgin Mary.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Discovery, Aswan: New Discoveries in Gebal El-Silsila Including Child Burials, Small Artemis Statue

Four intact child burials, a cemetery and a headless statue of Greek goddess Artemis have been discovered by different missions. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

There have been a series of antiquities discoveries in Aswan in the last few weeks, officials have said. The Swedish-Egyptian mission working in the Gebal El-Silsila area has uncovered four intact burials of children, while the Austrian mission at Kom Ombo’s archaeological hill discovered a large segment of a First Intermediate Period cemetery, and the Egyptian-Swiss mission working in the old town of Aswan has unearthed a small incomplete statue that probably depicts Greek goddess Artemis.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the four child burials date to the 18th dynasty (549/1550 BC to 1292 BC.). They consist of a rock-hewn grave for a child between two and three years old; the mummy still retains its linen wrapping and is surrounded with organic material from the remains of the wooden coffin.

The second burial, he went on, belongs to another child aged between six and nine years old, who was buried inside a wooden coffin, while the third burial is of a child between five and eight. Both of these graves contain funerary furniture, including amulets and a set of pottery. The fourth burial is also of a child between the age of five and eight.

“The new burial discoveries are shedding more light on the burial customs used in the Thutmosid period as well as the social, economic and religious life of people during that period,” Maria Nilsson, head of the Swedish mission said, adding that the mission has succeed during its previous excavation works to uncover many burials but the newly discovered ones have a special significance.

More excavations and studies on the site will reveal more about the death rituals conducted in this site during the period, she said. The Egyptian-Austrian archaeological mission in Kom Ombo led by Irene Foster uncovered a part of a cemetery from the First Intermediate Period, with a number of mud-brick tombs. Numerous pottery vessels and grave goods were unearthed.

Foster explains that the preliminary study revealed that it is mostly built on top of an earlier cemetery. Below the cemetery, Foster told Ahram Online, the mission has uncovered remains of an Old Kingdom town with a ceiling impression of King Sahure from the 5th Dynasty (2494 to 2345 BC). In the ancient town of Aswan, the Egyptian-Swiss mission, headed by Egyptologist Wolfgang Muller, unearthed a statue of a woman that was missing its head, feet and right hand.

Abdel Moneim Saeed, general director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, said that the statue is carved from limestone and measures 14cm by 9cm in width and the thickness of its bust is 3cm and the lower part is 7cm.

A preliminary study on the statue reveals that the dress she wears is similar to that of Artemis, Greek goddess of hunting, procreation, virginity and fertility, combined with the Egyptian goddesses Isis and Bastet.