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

Ancient Egypt News 01 – 09 January 2022

Welcome to the latest Ancient Egypt stories that made the headlines over the opening days of 2022.

 

A foetus previously identified in a mummified Egyptian woman has remained preserved for more than 2,000 years due to an unusual decomposition process.

 

In April 2021, the Warsaw Mummy Project published an article that revealed the first known case of a pregnant Ancient Egyptian mummy.

 

The mummy, which is housed in the National Museum in Warsaw was previously thought to be the remains of the priest Hor-Djehuti, until it was discovered in 2016 to be an embalmed woman. 

 

A closer examination using tomographic imaging revealed that the woman was between 20-30 years old when she died and was in her 26th to 30th week of her pregnancy.

 

In a new study published in the “Journal of Archaeological Science”, Ożarek-Szilke, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project explained that the deceased was covered with natron to dry the body.

 

During this process, the fetus was still in the uterus and essentially began too “pickle” in an acidic environment. Formic acid and other compounds (formed after death in the uterus because of various chemical processes related to decomposition) changed the Ph value inside the woman’s body. 

 

The change from alkaline to an acidic environment caused the leaching of minerals from the foetal bones, which began to dry out and mineralise. According to the researchers, the process of Egyptian mummification from a chemical point of view is the process of mineralisation of tissues that can survive for a millennia.

 

With the beginning of the New Year, the Valley of the Kings and Deir el-Bahari on the western bank of Luxor witnessed the launch of operation of environmentally friendly electric cars to transport visitors within the archaeological areas. 

 

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, explained that this step comes within the framework of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ project to develop visitor services at 30 archaeological sites nationwide as a first stage, to improve and enrich the experience of visitors within the archaeological sites.

 

Head of the Finance Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Hussein Al-Rifai said that 20 electric cars were operated on January 1, 12 of which in the Valley of the Kings and 8 in Deir el-Bahari.

 

Dr. Waziri has said that the New Administrative Capital Museum will be opened within weeks.

 

In a statement broadcast on Sada El Balad satellite Channel, Waziri added that the development works of the Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra and the Roman Museum in Alexandria have been completed, and they will be inaugurated soon, noting that the Grand Egyptian Museum will be opened during the current year.

 

The British newspaper “The Sun” chose Egypt’s Lost Golden City as the top discovery of 2021. 

 

The Egyptian mission, headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, found the city that was lost under the sands and called: “The Rise of Aten” in April, last year. 

 

Founded by one of the greatest rulers of Egypt, Amenhotep III, the ninth king of the 18th dynasty, this city was active during the great king’s possible co-regency with his son, the famous Amenhotep IV/Akhenaton.

 

It was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian empire on the western bank of Luxor.

 

“The city’s streets are flanked by houses, which some of their walls are up to 3 metres high,” Hawass said, “we can reveal that the city extends to the west, all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina.”

 

Betsy Brian, Professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore USA, said “The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun”.

 

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 of daily life. 

 

The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday.

 

A large number of archaeological finds, such as rings, scarabs, coloured pottery vessels, and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep III's cartouche, confirmed the dating of the city.

 

After only seven months of excavation, several areas or neighbourhoods 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 for  a very large number of workers and employees.

 

The second area which is still partly uncovered, 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 Amenhotep III (Neb Maat Ra).

 

On the other, a large number of casting molds for the production of amulets and delicate decorative elements.

 

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, the burial of a person found with his arms outstretched to his 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 of a vessel containing 2 gallons of dried or boiled meat (about 10 kg), has a valuable 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 us the names of two people that lived and worked in the city but confirmed that the city was active at the time of King Amenhotep III's possible co-regency with his son Akhenaten.

 

As history goes, one year after this pot was made, the city was abandoned and the capital relocated to Amarna. But was it? And why? And was the city repopulated again when Tutankhamun returned to Thebes?

 

Only further excavations of the area will reveal what truly happened 3500 years ago.

 

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 chandelier and nine gold and metal coins from the Byzantine and Ptolemaic periods were seized last week at the Cairo International Airport before being smuggled abroad.

 

The objects were in the possession of two passengers who were travelling to an Eastern European country. 

 

The objects were confiscated and the case is being investigated, said Hamdi Hamam, head of the Antiquities Unit at Egyptian Ports.

 

The chandelier is made of copper and goes back to the Khedive Ismail's era.

 

Three coins are made of gold and go back to the Byzantine era, two of which are engraved with Byzantine texts, depicting on one side emperor Constantine II wearing a crown and holding a cross, while the other side shows a staircase with a cross at the top, Hamam said. The third coin depicts on one side emperor Heraklonas flanked by his children and on the other, a staircase with a cross decorating its top.

 

The other six coins are made of metal and go back to the Ptolemaic era. They feature the deity Zeus on one side and a standing eagle on the other.

 

The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Dr Khaled El-Enany, chaired the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Grand Egyptian Museum Authority, at the ministry’s headquarters in Zamalek.

 

During the talks, the minister discussed a number of issues, especially with regard to the latest executive works in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the progress of the archaeological work in the museum ahead of its opening.

 

Major General Atef Moftah, the general supervisor of the GEM project announced that more than 99 percent of the museum work was finalized, with artefacts completely installed in the Great Hall and Grand Staircase, adding that more than 55,000 artefacts have been moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum so far.

 

Dr. El-Tayeb Abbas, Assistant Minister for Archaeological Affairs at the GEM, added that mechanical, engineering and plumbing work at the museum, including the main building, the central square and the Rameses hall, as well as the 3,200-year-old statue of Rameses II that weighs 75 tons, at present stands at 96%.

 

The GEM will include a children’s museum, an educational centre, a handicraft centre, and a museum dedicated to the solar boats, in addition to the first hanging obelisk.

 

The museum site is only 2km from the Giza Pyramids; located between the ancient Great Pyramids and the modern city of Cairo, at the junction between the dry desert and the fertile floodplain, the Grand Museum is a portal to the past.

 

The GEM opening, anticipated for the last quarter of 2022, will be attended by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, as well as kings and queens, princes and presidents, heads of international organizations, and senior officials from all around the world. 

 

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.