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Due to the COVID-19 situation, the GnT Tours Egypt Experience is currently only taking provisional bookings for a tour later in 2021

A weekly round up of the Ancient Egypt News stories that made the headlines

Ancient Egypt News 05 – 11 April 2021

Welcome to the Ancient Egypt news stories that made the headlines over the second week of April.

Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi asserted the government’s keenness to continue protecting the country’s heritage and antiquities. This includes exhibiting them to the Egyptian public and the international audience in the best possible way, a statement from the presidency has said. 

Al-Sisi’s statements came during a meeting with Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, who was present in Egypt to witness and celebrate the country’s rich heritage and support its safeguarding, notably with regard to the challenges of urbanisation and sustainable tourism.  

The president praised the continuous support provided by UNESCO internationally and regionally to the sectors of education, culture, and science. He also applauded the organisations efforts to promote and protect antiquities and heritage in Egypt and around the world, the statement added.  The President affirmed that the state’s steps in this context followed a balanced path between development efforts and the preservation of the value and integrity of unique archaeological sites. This includes the development of all historical areas in Cairo, “so that the capital of Egypt becomes an open museum that reflects the nobility of ancient and contemporary Egyptian civilisations”.  

Azoulay attended the Royal Mummies Parade, marking the transfer of the royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. She praised the parade, adding that it “represented a message to the whole world and presented the rich heritage of Egypt over different ages. . . Seeing the mummies enter the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, knowing they are now more accessible, marks the end of much work to improve their conservation and exhibition,” 

Azoulay said before the ceremony, “This raises emotions that go much further than the mere relocation of a collection. We will see the history of Egyptian civilisation unfold before our eyes.”  

The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, has appointed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass as an ambassador for world tourism, during a ceremony held by the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anani, after the Golden Parade event. 

This is the first time that an Egyptian has been appointed to this position, and makes Hawass responsible for encouraging tourism not only to Egypt, but to the whole world. 

From May 19th to August 29th, Canadians will be able to encounter over 300 items belonging to Ancient Egypt’s queens at the Canadian Museum of History. The exhibit will include items and statues from Nefertari, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut.

The Director of the Curriculum Development Center at the Education Ministry, Nawal Shalaby, announced that the ministry will teach hieroglyphics in the school curriculum next year. 

Shalaby explained that the new curriculum will pay special attention to archaeology and tourism, starting with kindergarten and going up to the first to third grades of elementary school. Hieroglyphic symbols will be taught starting from the fourth grade. 

“We began to introduce ancient monuments, our pharaonic history, and the history of Egypt throughout all ages, and how we respect the antiquities,” she explained. She added that students knowing their ancestors, their history, writing and their monuments is a way of appreciating and understanding their civilization better. 

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled el-Enany met with Education Minister Tarek Shawki in February, to discuss introducing archaeological and touristic material to the educational curricula, to help foster an awareness of history for the newer generations. 

The scientific office in the Ministry has completed a booklet on archaeology, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, which will serve as an atlas on the antiquities of Cairo and Giza for students, especially at the primary stage. An atlas of the ancient map of Egypt is being made, through which students can trace the history and civilization of Egypt, he added. 

Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Mostafa El-Feki announced that the Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology was to announce a new archaeological discovery in Habu City in Luxor, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, on April 10. 

El-Feki praised the efforts exerted by Hawass and the team of Egyptian scientists and workers, in light of the difficult climatic conditions in desert areas, in an attempt to discover more Egyptian treasures. 

He  stressed that the “countries of the world dig in the ground to produce water and oil, and Egypt is digging for history and civilization.” He added that this discovery will contribute to unraveling the mystery about different eras of the Egyptian civilization - every new disclosure uncovers precious information and knowledge that was not available before.

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has included the Egyptian Museum in its tentative list of World Heritage sites.

General Supervisor of the Central Administration for Public and International Relations at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Abdel Mohsen Shafi’ stated that the ministry was keen to send to UNESCO highlights of how special the museum is, as it is considered as a cultural beacon in the heart of Cairo and a part of the Egyptian civilization. 

It is the first national museum in the Middle East that includes the largest and most important archaeological treasures of the ancient Egyptian civilization, in addition to being a unique landmark that played an important role in educating and disseminating archaeological awareness for Egyptian society. The museum also houses a library and archive that contains rare documents and books in the field of Egyptology. It is a great place as a source of living heritage.    

Director General of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Sabah Abdel Razek  said that the museum’s building is unique in being one of the first buildings specifically constructed to become a museum.

It was built by the French architect Marcel Dornon, who designed it in the style of classical Greco-Roman architecture, after passing an international competition of 87 designs, the foundation stone of the museum was laid in 1897 and it was inaugurated on November 15, 1902 during the reign of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. 

It is reported that a project is currently being implemented to develop an exhibition in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, with a short-term and long-term plan. 

While in Luxor Dr. Mostafa Waziri revealing the restored and re-elected statues of Ramses II at the western entrance to Luxor Temple.

The Egyptian mission under Dr. Zahi Hawass has announced the discovery of a settlement that was lost under the sands called: The Dazzling Aten. The city is 3000 years old, dating to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay. 

‘Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it. We began our work searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun because the temples of both Horemheb and Ay were found in this area’ Hawass said. 

Founded by one of the greatest rulers of Egypt, king Amenhotep III, the ninth king of the 18th dynasty,it was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the pharaonic era on the western bank of Luxor. ‘The city’s streets are flanked by houses, which some of their walls are up to 3 meters high,' Hawass continued, ‘we can reveal that the city extends to the west, all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina.'  

Betsy Bryan, Professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore USA, said ‘The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun”. "The discovery of the Lost City, not only will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the Ancient Egyptians at the time where the Empire was at his wealthiest but will help us shed light on one of history's greatest mysteries: why did Akhenaten & Nefertiti decide to move to Amarna," Bryan added.   

The excavation started in September 2020 and within weeks, to the team's great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions. What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools from daily life. The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday. 

The first goal of the mission was to date this settlement. Hieroglyphic inscriptions found on clay caps of wine vessels and other historical references tell us the settlement consisted of three royal palaces of King Amenhotep III, as well as the Empire's administrative and industrial center. A large number of archaeological finds, such as rings, scarabs, colored pottery vessels, and mud bricks bearing seals of King Amenhotep III's cartouche, confirmed the dating of the city. 

After only seven months of excavation, several areas or neighborhoods have been uncovered. 

In the southern part, the mission found a bakery, a cooking and food preparation area, complete with ovens and storage pottery. From its size, we can state the kitchen was catering to a very large number of workers and employees. 

The second area which is still partly covered, is the administrative and residential district, with larger and well-arranged units. This area is fenced in by a zigzag wall, with only one access point leading to internal corridors and residential areas. The single entrance makes us think it was some sort of security, with the ability to control entry and exit to enclosed areas. Zigzag walls are one of the rare architectural elements in ancient Egyptian architecture, mainly used towards the end of the 18th Dynasty. 

The third area is the workshop. On one side, the production area for the mud bricks used to build temples and annexes. The bricks have seals bearing the cartouche of King Amenhotep III (Neb Maat Ra). On the other side, a large number of casting molds for the production of amulets and delicate decorative elements have been found. This is further evidence of the extensive activity in the city to produce decorations for both temples and tombs. 

All over the excavated areas, the mission has found many tools used in some sort of industrial activity like spinning and weaving. Metal and glass-making slag has also been unearthed, but the main area of such activity has yet to be discovered. 

Two unusual burials of a cow or bull were found inside one of the rooms. Investigations are underway to determine the nature and purpose of this practice. And even more remarkable burial of a person found with their arms outstretched to the side, and the remains of a rope wrapped around his knees. The location and position of this skeleton are rather odd, and more investigations are in progress. 

One of the most recent finds is of a vessel containing about 10kg of dried or boiled meat, with the inscription: Year 37, dressed meat for the third Heb Sed festival from the slaughterhouse of the stockyard of Kha made by the butcher luwy. This valuable information, not only gives the names of two people that lived and worked in the city but confirmed that the city was active in the later years of Amenhotep III. 

The excavation also revealed a mud seal with inscriptions that can be read: “gm pa Aton” that can be translated as “ the Aten is found”, this is the name of a temple built by Akhenaten at Karnak. 

To the north of the settlement a large cemetery was uncovered, the extent of which has yet to be determined. So far, the mission has discovered a group of rock-cut tombs of different sizes that can be reached through stairs carved into the rock. A common feature of tomb construction in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Nobles. Work is underway and the mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures.   

A specialized training course for archaeological pottery began for a week at Cairo and Giza Training Centers in Saqqara, of the Central Training Unit at the Office of the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. 

This course is in cooperation between the Ministry and the Polish Institute of Antiquities in Egypt to organize workshops for archaeologists who work in the ministry.   

The aim is to raise the efficiency of archaeologists and to create cadres in specializations such as archaeological pottery, as a part of the ministry's plan to raise the efficiency of its workers, museums and archaeological sites nationwide.

In this session, Prof. Dr. Anya Vodenska, Director of the Polish Institute and a specialist in the field of pottery, lectures students on how to study and date archaeological pottery.   

And finally, on a sombre note, it is with regret that we received notice of the death of well-known and well-liked Geologist and self taught Egyptologist Steve Cross. Steve’s theories of how flash floods led to the hiding of Tutankhamun’s tomb were well respected within Egyptological circles. Condolences to his family.  

And that is it for this week. 

This weekly round-up is sourced from public sites on the internet and do not necessarily reflect the views of GnT Tours. Please feel free to contact us regarding these and any other stories posted here.

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