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

Ancient Egypt News 13 – 19 December 2021 (Last of 2021)

Welcome to the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the third week of December.


Archaeology Magazine has published the most important discoveries of 2021.
And the discovery of the “Lost Golden City” in Luxor by the Egyptian mission led by archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass ranked No. 1 among the ten most important archaeological discoveries in 2021.


The Egyptian mission discovered the lost city under the sand, which was called “The Rise of the Aten”; it dates back to the reign of King Amenhotep III, and it appears that the city continued to be used by Tutankhamun, 3000 years ago.


Dr Hawass said that work began in this area to search for the mortuary temple of King Tutankhamun, because the temples of Horemheb and Ay were found nearby.


Hawass added that this city is the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian Empire on the western bank of Luxor. Houses were found in the city; some of whose walls are almost 3 meters high and divided into streets.


“We have uncovered a part of the city that extends to the west, while Deir el-Madina is part of our city,” Hawass added.


Excavations began in September 2020, and within weeks, mud-brick formations began to appear in all directions, and members of the mission were astonished when they discovered that the site was a large city in a good state of preservation, with almost complete walls, and rooms filled with the utensils of daily life.


The archaeological layers have remained untouched for thousands of years, and the ancient inhabitants left them as if they were yesterday.


Hawass pointed out: “The discovery of this city, not only gives us a rare glimpse into the lives of the ancient Egyptians in the time of the empire, but it will also help us shed light on one of the greatest mysteries in history, why Akhenaten and Nefertiti decided to move to Amarna”


Egypt has recovered nearly 30,000 illegally smuggled artifacts from abroad since 2011, including 5,300 in 2021 alone, General Supervisor of the Repatriation Antiquities Department Shaaban Abdel-Gawad said on Saturday.


Recovery efforts are conducted by a technical committee staffed by experts, who scour international antiquity auctions, Abdel-Gawad explained during an interview with Al-Hayat satellite channel.


He also stressed that antiquities are recovered from abroad, thanks to bilateral agreements with Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, Lebanon and a number of European Union countries.


Concerning the 5,300 artifacts recovered in 2021, Abdel-Gawad stated that they are now shown at the Coptic Museum in Cairo after they were in the possession of the Museum of the Bible in Washington.


The negotiations to recover these artifacts started in 2016 between Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and authorities in the United States.


The Department of Repatriation in the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities is also tracking black-market auctions and internet sales, including on eBay and Amazon.


He pointed out that the ministry is cooperating with other Egyptian ministries, noting that monitoring antiquities on social media sites or other places of sale "is a difficult matter because it is not easy to track account holders".


On 6 December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the repatriation of cultural property after it was supported by 111 countries.


In response, Osama Abdel-Khaleq, the Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, stated that Egypt supported this resolution to enhance international efforts to repatriate the smuggled ancient artifacts.


A German-Egyptian mission at Al-Sheikh Hamad archaeological site in Tel Atribis in Sohag has unearthed a collection of 13,000 ostraca (clay vessel fragments) which bear engraved texts in demotic, hieratic, Coptic, Greek and Arabic, says the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.


“This is a very important discovery because it sheds light on the economy and trade in Atribis throughout history. The texts reveal the financial transactions of the area’s inhabitants, who bought and sold provisions such as wheat and bread,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.


Christian Latis, head of the German mission, explains that archaeologists are now studying the ostraca in order to learn more about the activities of the area’s past inhabitants.


Latis suggests that the texts written on the ostraca indicates that the area may have housed a school for teaching demotic, hieratic, hieroglyphic and Greek writing.


Mohamed Abdel-Badia, head of the central department for Upper Egypt, revealed that the mission has also found a collection of ostraca that date back to the Roman and/or Byzantine eras.


Atribis was one of the ancient towns of the nine nomes of ancient Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the Nile southwest of Sohag city.


The Giza Pyramid archaeological site has installed and begun operating the electronic ticketing gates at its entrance as part of the second phase of its e-ticketing system.


The project comes within the framework of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to digitise all facilities and services provided to visitors in archaeological sites and museums.


Khaled Sherif, the assistant to the tourism minister for digitisation, explained that these gates are very important and must be installed at all archaeological sites and museums because they will facilitate and quicken entry into these sites, enhancing visitors’ experiences. It will also put an end to queuing at the sites’ entry gates.


He added that each ticket has a QR code that can only be used once. It also allows for counting the number of tourists entering and leaving sites in order to monitor revenues. The system also accepts payment using credit cards.


The director-general of the Giza Plateau archaeological site, said that the system operates 13 electronic gates at the site’s entrance without disfiguring the historicity of the site.


This is the second and final phase of the electronic system; as in October, electronic tickets were implemented to replace the old paper ones.


The Giza Plateau is the fifth archaeological site to install electronic ticketing gates, after the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, Luxor and Karnak Temples, and the Avenue of Sphinxes.


The Ministry of Culture is about to inaugurate the first phase of the newly renovated Luxor village of New Gourna, designed by historic architect Hassan Fathy.


Located on the west bank of the Nile, the village was founded in the 1940s after the Egyptian Department of Antiquities commissioned Fathy to design a new settlement, in order to relocate a community in Luxor that resided directly on top of a royal necropolis. As a pioneer in sustainable architecture, Fathy saw an opportunity to put his ideas into practice on a larger scale, and drew up New Gourna Village as a prototype in construction for poorer communities, using materials and techniques that were native to the area - an environmental edge that was mostly absent in his contemporaries.


Although Fathy hoped the project would become a model for sustainable construction in Egypt’s rural areas, its completion was delayed due to financial and political complications. Decades later, in 2019, UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture and the National Organization for Civilization Coordination moved forwards with plans to renovate the village and bring the renowned architect’s vision back to life. The first phase of the renovation project began in February 2020, with plans to further develop the surrounding area using a similar architectural style.


Born in Alexandria in 1900, Fathy - known as ‘the architect for the poor’ - was the recipient of the first-ever Aga Khan Chairman’s Award, as well as the Right Livelihood Award in its first year in 1980. He is credited with pioneering new architectural techniques with respect for Egyptian traditions.


Researchers from the University of Malta have developed an algorithm that performs “virtual segmentation” to reveal the internal structures of archaeological remains; specifically, ancient mummified animals.


The hidden internal structures of archaeological remains can be revealed through a technique, Propagation Phase Contrast Synchrotron Microtomography (PPC-SRμCT), which is considered the gold standard for non-invasive and non-destructive imaging.


This (PPC-SRμCT) allows researchers to perform a “virtual autopsy” and “virtual unwrapping” of mummified remains, uncovering information about processes used to create mummies and informing historical study. It has been applied to archaeozoological studies of mummified animal remains from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Ancient Egypt, originating from the third century BC to the fourth century AD.


Image segmentation is an important process in computer vision, unlocking higher level tasks such as understanding the progress of a disease from a CT image. Previous studies have trained AI to segment imagery automatically, with most work focused on segmenting medical images, such as CT scans of the human liver.


However, there is a significant difference between conventional CT scans and the volumetric scans captured by this technology (PPC-SRμCT). Methods for segmenting the latter are comparatively primitive, requiring an expert to manually segment the virtual specimen to separate different parts and materials.


The University of Malta researchers developed a tool to automatically segment volumetric images, aiming to drastically reduce the effort involved from weeks of effort, even for small remains, to a matter of hours. They used manually segmented samples from previous work to train and tune their machine learning model.


For a set of four specimens of Ancient Egyptian animal mummies, they achieved an overall accuracy of 94 to 98 per cent when compared with manually segmented slices, approaching the off-the-shelf commercial software harnessing deep learning (97 to 99 per cent) at much lower complexity.


A qualitative analysis of the segmented output demonstrated that their results were close in terms of usability, to those from deep learning, justifying the use of these techniques.


And that’s it for this week.  

Ancient Egypt News will be back early 2022.  



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.