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

Ancient Egypt News 25 – 31 October 2021

Welcome to the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the final week of October.


Dr. Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, and Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, witnessed the signing of a protocol between both the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Supreme Council of Universities, in the framework of fruitful and constructive cooperation between the ministries. This protocol aims to develop the system of students arriving in Egypt to implement the mandates of His Excellency the President of the Republic, especially in light of the launch of the “Study in Egypt” initiative.


The Protocol was signed by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Professor Mohamed Latif, Secretary of the Supreme Council of Universities, in the presence of a number of professors and presidents of the Egyptian universities.


Dr. El-Enany delivered a speech where he indicated that there has been much cooperation between the Egyptian Ministry and universities during the past period in various areas, including the participation of many young people and students from Egyptian universities in events and events organized by the Ministry, including the Parade of the Golden Mummies during which Helwan University students decorated walls, fields and the outdoor square of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.


Dr. El-Enany also said that the students of South Valley and Luxor universities are now participating in the event that the Ministry is preparing to hold and organize for the tourist promotion of Luxor Governorate in the coming weeks, and noted that other celebrations will be organized in the coming period for tourism promotion of the Upper Governorates.


The Minister also spoke about the cooperation between the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Egyptian universities in the fields of restoration and excavation, as well as studies and research through the faculties of archaeology, history and languages. as well as the scientific colleges, which contribute to achieving the mission to preserve Egypt's unique cultural heritage.


Kim Kardashian is plenty of things, but crusader of obscure causes isn’t really her schtick. Still, by some divine, boozy stroke of luck, Kardashian helped blow the top off an artifact trafficking ring according to a recent podcast episode of Art Bust: Scandalous Stories of the Art World, run by renowned journalist Ben Lewis.


After a 2018 Met Gala photo was taken of the star, looking dazed – next to a solid gold sarcophagus, authorities began work on a case years in the making. Unwittingly, Kardashian had broken an international case wide-open.


The artefact she had benignly set herself up against was none other than the looted, gilded coffin of Nedjemankh, a Ptolemaic priest whose Minya tomb had been raided in 2011; the sarcophagus was among the many dug-up and trafficked items smuggled out of Egypt during the chaos of revolution. The coffin, which dates back to the first century BC, was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $4 million dollars by way of fake documentation.


A Middle Eastern informant was quick to notify Manhattan’s Assistant District Attorney, Matthew Bogdanos, of the photo. Irritated that they weren’t compensated for helping unearth the coffin, the informant was more than willing to speak out against the culprits who smuggled the coffin out of Egypt to begin with – and with that, the hunt began.


After pillaging the tomb in 2011, the coffin was sent to antiques dealer Hassan Fazeli in the United Arab Emirates. Fazeli reportedly “drew up fraudulent documents” before exporting the relic to Hamburg, Germany, where Roben Dib (manager of the Dionysus Gallery) allegedly faked the export license; the document stated that Nedjemankh’s sarcophagus had been legally exported in 1971.


From there, Nedjemankh was shipped off to France, where two antiques scholars Christophe Kunicki and Richard Semper sold it off to the Met. Bogdanos, who had been after this multinational smuggling ring for five years, was finally given closure after a mummified finger bone was found inside the coffin, helping identify its true origin.


German police took Roben Dib into immediate custody in August of 2020, soon after the coffin was returned to Cairo, with apologies from Met CEO Daniel Weiss to the Egyptian people and antiques minister Khaled El-Enany.


A new analysis of an ancient Egyptian mummy suggests that sophisticated techniques for preserving the dead may be 1,000 years older than previously believed. The discovery centres on the tomb of a high-ranking Old Kingdom official known as Khuwy.


Archaeologists excavated the mummy at the Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo, in 2019. Hieroglyphs on the wall of the tomb where the deceased was laid to rest, show that the burial took place during the Fifth Dynasty period, which spanned the early 25th to mid-24th century B.C.E. Pottery and jars used to store body parts removed during the man’s mummification, also appear to date to the time of the Old Kingdom.


Researchers previously believed that high-quality linen dressings and resin of the kind employed in Khuwy’s mummification weren’t used until much later.


“Until now, we had thought that Old Kingdom mummification was relatively simple, with basic desiccation—not always successful—no removal of the brain, and only occasional removal of the internal organs,” said Salima Ikram, Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo. “Indeed, more attention was paid to the exterior appearance of the deceased than the interior.”


Ikram and her colleagues are set to share their initial findings in an upcoming episode of the National Geographic series “Lost Treasures of Egypt.” The team plans to conduct additional tests on the mummy, investigating the possibility that it may not be Khuwy, or that the tomb was repurposed for a different burial much later. 


“I remain hesitant until we can conduct carbon-14 dating,” Ikram says.


She adds, “If this is indeed the mummy of Khuwy, this will truly be a unique discovery that dramatically shifts our understanding of the history of the Old Kingdom.”


The tests, which will take six to eight months to complete, will offer a more definitive answer regarding the mummy’s age. If dated to the Old Kingdom, the find would expand scholars’ understanding of Fifth-Dynasty trade networks, suggesting extensive trade with neighboring empires. The resin used to preserve the body would likely have been imported from Lebanon.


Tom Cook of Windfall Films, which is producing the National Geographic series, says that Ikram was initially skeptical of the idea that the mummy dated to the Fifth Dynasty.


“Researchers didn’t think the mummification process then, was that advanced,” he says. “So her initial reaction was ‘This is definitely not Old Kingdom.’ But over the course of the investigation, she started to come round.”


The tomb where the mummy was found features remarkable wall paintings rendered in “royal colors”—a choice that suggests Khuwy may have been related to Fifth-Dynasty pharaoh Djedkare Isesi, reported Jessica Stewart for My Modern Met in 2019. The L-shaped tomb’s architecture, particularly a tunneled entrance, more typically found in pyramids, further indicates that Khuwy was a person of high status, according to Jack Guy of CNN.


The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MTA) has begun preparing the necessary studies to start a project to restore, develop and rehabilitate the Gezira (Island) Museum in Aswan. The ministry plans to reopen the museum after closure for more than ten years.


This project will not be limited to the restoration of the building only, but will include the development of the museum display scenario, the general site and the garden surrounding the museum, in addition to developing the system of services within the museum and the public site around it.


Dr. Ali Omar said that experts of the Museum Display Scenario Committee have inspected the museum to assess its current condition. The committee is currently working on selecting the pieces that will be displayed in the museum, and a large group of them has been agreed upon initially.


Dr. Omar pointed out that the pieces that will be displayed will include the most important discoveries in Aswan and the history of Elephantine.

Moamen Othman, Head of the Museums Sector under the (MoTA), said that it is scheduled to transfer a group of pieces from archaeological and museum stores from Aswan, Kom Ombo and the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to be displayed at the Gezira Museum when it opens, to ensure the enrichment of the museum collection that will be included there.


He added that the development project will include the main building of the museum, which is a historical building, as its facade is an archaeological site, in addition to the development of the museum display in the Annex, which is currently open for visits and includes artefacts discovered by the German archaeological mission working on Elephantine Island since 1969.


Othman added that the museum’s visitor services will also be developed such as toilets, providing cafeterias and bazaars to sell the products of Aswan craftsmen, in addition to providing seats, umbrellas and trash baskets, which will improve the visitor’s experience.


As part of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities' strategy to achieve a comprehensive digital transformation, the ministry started, on October 27, to activate the electronic payment machines for entry tickets to the Giza Pyramids Archaeological Area, to replace the manual tickets payment system, while preserving the identity of the area and its archaeological character.


Director General of the Giza Pyramids Archaeological Area, Ashraf Mohieldin said in a statement that these machines are part of an integrated electronic system to issue modern tickets bearing a QR code and that can only be used once through the smart gates, which reads the ticket at high speed while the tourist is walking to prevent crowding.


It also allows for counting the number of tourists entering and leaving the area for the purposes of insuring and following-up on the tickets that have been sold, which prevents entry with forged tickets. 


A team from Factum Foundation is currently in Luxor during the final stages of the recording of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings, carrying out composite photography recording.


Since 2016, the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative has worked to digitally document the tomb of Seti I at the highest resolution possible in 3D and colour. The initial recording work began in 2001 with a close-range laser scanner that has evolved over the years.


Since the start of 2019, the work of the TNPI has been carried out by a totally Egyptian team, with everyone from Luxor and the West Bank except Aliaa Ismail, originally from Cairo.


Once the recording of the entire tomb of Seti I is complete, our attention will focus on establishing theTheban Necropolis Preservation Initiative (TNPI) as an autonomous and independent documentation, archiving and training centre. It is currently run as a collaboration between Factum Foundation, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the University of Basel. Its funding comes almost entirely from Factum but the aim is to demonstrate that this work can bring revenue for the Ministry while being self-supporting."


The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has set the price for filming TV programs and films in archaeological sites and museums across Egypt as 5,000 Egyptian pounds a day for Egyptians, and 15,000 Egyptian pounds a day to foreigners, with the monthly fees of 50,000 Egyptian pounds per month for Egyptians And 150,000 Egyptian pounds per month for foreigners.


The mission of the Faculty of Archeology, Cairo University, headed by Prof. Dr. Ola El-Ajezy, succeeded in excavating the tomb of “Ptah-M-Wia”, who was head of the treasury during the reign of King Ramses II, during the excavations that the mission is conducting in the Saqqara area, south of the ascending road of King Unas.


The new discovery was announced by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, who pointed out that the discovery site includes the tombs of senior men from the Nineteenth Dynasty that complements the site of the tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the most important of which is the site of the military commander, Horemheb.


Dr. Waziri said that the importance of discovering this tomb is because of the positions held by its owner as: royal scribe, head of the treasury, chief supervisor of livestock, and responsible for divine offerings in the temple of Ramses II in Thebes.


Prof. Dr. Mohamed Othman El-Khosht, President of Cairo University, explained that this important archaeological discovery joins the group of discoveries made by the excavation mission of Cairo University.


He stressed the extent of the university’s interest in field work alongside research and scientific work, which is a priority in its interests to advance the educational process in all fields.


He went on to say, that the university spares no effort to support the mission’s work, expressing his happiness that this is one of the manifestations of Cairo University’s cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.


Prof.  Al-Ajezi, head of the mission, added that the cemetery belongs to the distinctive style of this site, known as the tomb-temple, as it consists of an entrance in the form of an edifice, followed by one or more courtyards.


What has now been discovered from the tomb is its entrance is built of stone carved with the scenes of the owner of the tomb. This entrance leads to a first hall with painted and colored plaster walls. She noted that among the most important of these scenes are those depicting the procession of carrying offerings, which ends with a scene of slaughtering a calf.


Many engraved stone blocks were found under the sand, as well as many Osirian columns, some of them lying in the sand and others standing in their original places. All these pieces will be studied to be put back in their original places in the cemetery.


The head of the mission added that the mission had completed work on the tomb of the Supreme Commander of the Army during the reign of King Seti I and his son, King Ramses II.


The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, Dr.  Mostafa Waziri, denied reports that a new “sphinx” was uncovered in the Pyramids Plateau.


During a phone-in interview with “al-Kahera wal Nas” (Cairo and People) channel, Waziri said that “There is no new Sphinx, the discovery is a rock in the area of Pyramids Plateau.”


Waziri added that archaeological discoveries have a certain system for their announcement, while the rock in question is not a new discovery.


There are a large number of archaeological rocks in Egypt, including entire areas such as the Pyramids Plateau and the Mokattam Rock, Waziri said.


It remains unclear if the discovery in question is a rock or a statue, because excavations are being completed around it and its features have not yet been uncovered.


And that’s 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.