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News: Ruins of 7,000-year-old city found in Egypt oasis
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080129/wl_mideast_afp/egyptarchaeology
 
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MODERN EGYPT

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Bianca
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« Reply #90 on: February 27, 2009, 06:35:15 pm »




Remains of Serabit Al-Khidem temple
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« Reply #91 on: February 27, 2009, 06:36:32 pm »










                                                 SINAI'S TURQUOISE GODDESS






AlAhram Weekly
Feb. 23, 2009

A comprehensive restoration and documentation scheme is underway at a major temple and mine complex in Sinai, as Nevine El-Aref reports
 
From pre-dynastic times, early Egyptians made their way to the Sinai Peninsula over land or across the Red Sea in search of minerals. Their chief targets were turquoise and copper, which they mined and extracted in the Sinai mountains.

Archaeologists examining evidence left 8,000 years ago have concluded that some of the very earliest known settlers in Sinai were miners. In about 3,500 BC these mineral hunters discovered the great turquoise veins of Serabit Al-Khadim. Some 500 years later the Egyptians had mastered Sinai and set up a large and systematic mining operation at Serabit Al-Khadim, where they carved out great quantities of turquoise. They carried their loads down the Wadi Matalla to the garrison port at Al-Markha, south of the present village of Abu Zenima, where they set about loading them on board boats bound for the mainland.

The turquoise was so valued that it became an important part of ritual symbolism in ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies. They used it to carve sacred scarabs and fabricate jewellery, or ground it into pigments for painting statuettes, bricks, reliefs and walls.

To mine the turquoise, the Egyptians would hollow out large galleries in the mountains, carving at the entrance to each a representation of the reigning Pharaoh who was the symbol of the authority of the Egyptian state over the mines.

A temple dedicated to Goddess Hathor was built during the 12th Dynasty, when Serabit Al-Khadim was the centre of copper and turquoise mining and a flourishing trade was established. One of few Pharaonic monuments known in Sinai, the temple is unlike other temples of the period in that it is composed of a large number of bas-reliefs and carved stelae showing the dates of various turquoise-mining missions in antiquity, the number of team members, and the goal and duration of each mission. From dynasty to dynasty, the temple was expanded and beautified, with the last known enlargement taking place in the 20th Dynasty.

To reach the temple the visitor must pass through a sequence of 14 perfectly-cut blocks that form ante-rooms, and even a small pylon, before reaching the central courtyard. At the far end of this courtyard are the sanctum and two grottos, where the gods Hathor and Sopdu were adored and where their images still remain. This part of the temple was accessible only to the priests and the Pharaoh. Regretfully, a colonial British attempt to reopen the mines in the mid-19th century led to some of the reliefs being destroyed.

The site of Serabit Al-Khadim, which lies on top of a mountain 2,600 feet above sea level, was discovered by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie in 1905. Petrie unearthed several royal and private sculptures, stelae and sacrificial tools dating back to the time of the Fourth-Dynasty King Senefru.

Petrie also found vestiges of the Proto- Sinaitic script, believed to be an early precursor of our modern alphabet. These scripts began with hieroglyphic signs used to write the names of the people who worked in the mines and to keep account of their labours. The signs developed into an "Aleph-Beta" script that recorded a Proto-Canaanite language. The script that developed, Proto-Sinaitic, was used to write a Pan-Canaanite language.

The Serabit Al-Khadim temple resembles a double series of stelae leading to an underground chapel dedicated to the goddess Hathor. Many of the temple's large number of sanctuaries and shrines were dedicated to Hathor who, among her many other attributes, was the patron goddess of copper and turquoise miners. As we have seen, the earliest part of the main rock-cut Hathor Temple, which has a front court and portico, dates from the 12th Dynasty and was probably founded by Pharaoh Amenemhet III, during a period of time when the mines were particularly active.

A number of scenes depict the role of Hathor in the transformation of the new Pharaoh, into the deified ruler of Egypt, which took place on his ascension to the throne. One scene depicts Hathor suckling the Pharaoh. Another scene from a stone tablet depicts Hathor offering the Pharaoh the ankh symbol, or key of life.

This older part of the temple was enlarged upon and extended during the New Kingdom by none other than Queen Hatshepsut, along with Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep III. This was a regeneration period for mining operations after an apparent decline in the area during the Second Intermediate Period. These extensions are unusual for a temple in the manner in which they are angled, that is to the west of the earlier structure.

On the north side of the temple is a shrine dedicated to the Pharaohs who were deified in this region. On one wall of the shrine are numerous stelae. A little to the south of the main temple is a shrine dedicated to Sopdu, god of the Eastern Desert, which is smaller than the northern shrine.

Today, the whole site is being subjected to restoration and documentation in order to make it more accessible to visitors and more tourist-friendly. Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the central administration for Lower Egypt antiquities, said that the restoration, which will take about a year on a budget of LE500,000, would remove all the signs of time that marred the temple's walls and reliefs. It would also consolidate them and strengthen the fabric and colours of the wall paintings. The restoration will be carried out by a mission from the SCA, while the documentation will be implemented in collaboration with CULTNAT which will provide the necessary technical assistance and equipment.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, said that every relief would be photographed, drawn and videotaped on its four sides and then returned to its original position. A site management project would also be implemented.

Abdel-Maqsoud promises that by 2010 a proposal will be presented to the World Heritage Organisation for the Serabit Al-Khadim archaeological site to be included on the World Heritage List.

 


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« Reply #92 on: March 02, 2009, 07:28:44 pm »









                                                             Binz of Tahoe






By Zahi Hawass
Mar. 2, 2009
Cairo

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over 12 years ago, I had the honour of receiving a phone call from Mrs Jihan El-Sadat. Mrs Sadat wanted to tell me about a lady named Nancy Binz, who had heard about my discovery of the Valley
of the Golden Mummies and dreamt of seeing it for herself. I began receiving faxes every day from
Binz, but I could not answer them because at that time there was no e-mail, and my office at the
Giza Pyramids did not have an international line. Binz could not believe that her faxes were going unanswered. She called Ambassador Hager El-Stanbouli in San Francisco, and asked her to contact
me. Then, she called Mrs Sadat, who told her, "Nancy, come to Egypt, and you will see this great discovery."

Binz arrived at my office in Giza with a lady friend of hers. I noticed how lively Binz was, and that she had a very kind, innocent face. You cannot help but like and trust her from the moment you meet her.
I was very busy that day, and could not go with them to the Valley of the Golden Mummies. Instead,
I called the director of Bahariya Oasis and asked him to accompany them. I also arranged for the ladies to stay at the Wadi El-Nakhil Hotel, which witnessed my discovery and even has a suite named in my honour. Binz and her friend were inspired by the Valley of the Golden Mummies, which is considered by scholars to be the Tutankhamun of the Graeco-Roman period. Binz said that she had heard about the discovery everywhere, including in The New York Times, CNN, and even live on Fox TV. When she saw
it for herself, she was thrilled by the gilded mummies that had captured the hearts of the world.

I have become good friends with Binz, because I can see how much she loves Egypt. Once, she came to a lecture that I was giving in San Francisco at the de Young Museum. The curator of the Egyptian section talked to her, and told her that they needed to renovate their exhibit. Binz wrote her a check. She also found out that the American University in Cairo was creating a fellowship for Egyptology students, called the "Zahi Hawass Prize in Egyptology". She sent a check for $10,000 to AUC to support this fellowship. During the winter, Binz has an apartment on a cruise ship that sails around the world, but she always has to come to Egypt. She always says that Egypt lives in her heart. She has never said anything to me about reincarnation, but I do believe that she lived here thousands of years ago. I do not know whether she was an ordinary lady or a queen.

Binz has a foundation called the Binz Foundation, which supports Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. This is the town where she spends most of her summers with her children and grandchildren. Because of what she has done for the college, Binz has become a kind of legend in Lake Tahoe. People love her, and everywhere she goes they thank her for her support of construction projects and fellowships. The most important thing that Binz does, however, is support culture at the university. The foundation invites famous politicians, writers, and intellectuals from all over the world to come to Lake Tahoe, meet with students, and answer the questions they have.
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« Reply #93 on: March 02, 2009, 07:31:42 pm »









These programmes have made Sierra Nevada College into one of the most important colleges in America. I personally know some of the famous people who have been invited there. Mrs Sadat went for a meeting with the students, and gave a public dinner lecture. Mrs Sadat's smile and modest manner created a place for her in the hearts of the Americans. Binz loves her, and talks about her all the time with great affection. Benazir Bhutto also gave a lecture at the college. When she was assassinated, Binz cried like a baby because she loved Benazir so much. I myself have been to Sierra Nevada college twice. The first time, they could not accommodate everyone who wanted to attend my lecture because there was so much public demand. They had to build a tent outside the campus. This year, I visited again. I could see how the people are in love with the magic of the Pharaohs, and I could also see a smile on Binz's face because she was able to give such happiness to the people of her town. When I met the students at the college, they asked me intelligent questions about King Tut and the curse of the Pharaohs. I was very surprised when one of them asked me where I would like to be buried! The magic of Egypt was clear from the way the hall was packed with people who came from all over the area around Lake Tahoe. The college even invited me to give a second lecture.

The Pharaohs are truly alive in the hearts of people everywhere.

 


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« Reply #94 on: March 02, 2009, 07:45:10 pm »

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/757/profile.htm

http://www.guardians.net/hawass/articles/Eternal_Egypt_Is_His_Business.htm

http://viviansalama.wordpress.com/category/zahi-hawass/
« Last Edit: March 02, 2009, 07:54:32 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #95 on: March 23, 2009, 12:09:17 pm »










The Michael Cohen Gallery; Nebamun hunting in the marshes, fragment of a scene from the tomb-chapel of Nebamun; detail of a feast for Nebamun
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 12:12:11 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #96 on: March 23, 2009, 12:13:17 pm »










                                                         A happy ending with a pinch of Salt





Al Aharam Weekly
March 23, 2009
 
Thousands of miles and thousands of years apart, a son pays homage to his dead father. In a bright new limestone tomb-chapel on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, the son of the Scribe and Grain Accountant Nebamun offers his father a bouquet of flowers. In the British Museum in the heart of London, a wealthy Egyptian-born financier builds a memorial to his late father, Michel Cohen.

The two events are linked by a series of wall paintings that have been likened to the genius of the Sistine Chapel, but the story of how the paintings came to be in the museum is worthy of an adventure of Indiana Jones.

We begin with Nebamun -- whose name means "My Lord is Amun" -- described as "a Scribe and Grain Accountant of Amun in the Gallery of Divine Offerings". We do not know exactly who he was, but he probably died at some point in the later 18th Dynasty during the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV (1400 to 1390 BC) or Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390 to 1353 BC). Nebamun and his wife, Hatshepsut, had two sons and a daughter; the elder son, Netjermes, a priest, seems to have taken over his father's office on the latter's death.

Nebamun prepared for himself a tomb-chapel of shining white local limestone on the opposite side of the river from Karnak Temple. He had the walls painted with vivid images of life, death and the afterlife as seen and understood in the world he knew. The scenes of domesticated animals and wildlife, of dancing girls, of Nebamun counting tributes, and even of his pet cat catching birds in the reeds, are among the finest and most realistic ever found in Egypt.

After Nebamun's burial the tomb below the chapel was sealed, although it may have been opened to permit other family burials. The chapel was left open so that Nebamun's friends and relatives could pay visits and admire the splendid art, just as worshippers in Rome enjoyed the wonderful visions created by Michaelangelo.

Amenhotep III's reign was followed by a period of instability caused when his heir, who called himself Akhenaten, overthrew the priests of Amun and created a new religion and a new seat of rule -- albeit temporary -- at Amarna. This chaos continued until the end of the 18th Dynasty, and Nebamun's tomb was among those attacked by iconoclasts.

Inevitably, as time went by anything of value was removed, and Nebamun and his tomb-chapel were forgotten. As the centuries passed the tomb and its fabulous paintings appear to have escaped further disturbance. In the early 19th century, however, in places a long way from Egypt, interest in the ancient world and its antiquities was growing. This interest was fed by early European treasure seekers and adventurers. Some, like the French agent Bernadino Drovetti (1776-1852), were bent on claiming prizes for personal profit; others, like the British consul-general Henry Salt (1780-1827), retrieved their spoils under the guise of preserving "world" heritage for public collections -- in Salt's case, the British Museum -- although he expected to be paid for his toil on top of expenses. Sadly such treasure hunters paid scant attention to provenance or even location, dragging away anything moveable (as Salt's agent, Giovanni Belzoni dragged the head of Ramses, now in the British Museum) or hacking the prettier sections of paintings and reliefs off tomb and temple walls.

By 1820 Salt was working with a Greek agent, Giovanni "Yanni" d'Athanasi (1798-1854). These two were vying with Drovetti to procure antiquities, and both sides employed subterfuge and trickery against one another. Exactly where d'Athanasi found the tomb of Nebamun is not known, and he himself died (in poverty, in London) without revealing the facts -- probably not through malice, but because such a detail was thought of at the time as insignificant. It was not then understood that an artefact had no real value for scholars unless its context could be established. The tomb in question, however, was most probably at Dra Abul-Naga.

The paintings had been applied on mud-brick plaster mixed with chopped straw smoothed over the hewn rock of the tomb chambers. The plaster was fragile, and the sections d'Athanasi's men removed varied in thickness so that some easily crumbled and cracked. D'Athanasi took the sections he wanted, probably concentrating on those that he thought would appeal to European taste. After removing his chosen fragments he left the tomb and the rest of the paintings, which were probably intact until he found them, to be looted, destroyed, and mostly lost.

Salt shipped 10 fragments to London in 1821. Despite the lack of precise information as to their original location, their transportation and shipment from Alexandria were carefully recorded. "Some care must be taken in carrying them, as jolting would probably destroy them," Salt wrote. That same year two young clergymen on a visit to Egypt, George Waddington and Barnard Hanbury, obtained an 11th fragment which was presented to the British Museum in 1833.

Salt's methods of excavating and acquiring antiquities did not escape censure even in his day. Several contemporary commentators were critical, including the explorer James Burton (1788-1862) who was probably witnessing the destruction of Nebamun's tomb itself when he decried the way the paintings had been destroyed just so that a few pieces could be taken. Other fragments were picked over once d'Athanasi had removed the choicest bits, and some of these ended up in the Musée Calvet in Avignon, the Musée des Beau-Arts in Lyons, and in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The Berlin pieces were purchased at the sale of a private collection in 1906. Another three fragments were acquired by the businessman Moise Levy de Benzion (1873-1943), founder of Cairo's Benzion department store. While in Europe during World War II Benzion, a Sephardic Jew, was captured and put to death by the Nazis, and after the war his collection was dispersed. It is believed that these fragments are now stored in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
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« Reply #97 on: March 23, 2009, 12:14:40 pm »










When Salt's 10 fragments arrived at the British Museum in 1821, the museum was still at Montagu House. It was more than a decade before the pieces were consolidated with plaster of Paris and backed with wood so as to form part of the collection of the "Egyptian Saloon" in the grand new British Museum building, where they were hung in 1835. Not only were the panels displayed as individual paintings, but there was no indication that they came from the same tomb-chapel. The catalogue listed them as "...fresco paintings chiefly illustrative of the domestic habits of the Egyptians". They were certainly not rated as fine art.

Unfortunately the wooden backs forced the evaporating moisture from the plaster of Paris to the face of the paintings, and some of the colours and details faded and even disappeared. This is clear from comparisons with tracings made of the paintings at some point after their arrival.

During World War I the paintings were placed in secure rooms, but in 1918 they were moved with other antiquities to the safety of the London Underground. They spent most of World War II in a quarry in Wiltshire in the southwest of England, but sadly the vibration of the train journey they endured caused some crumbling... and more plastering, and even glue and nylon repairs, and further discolouration.

The paintings were displayed separately in the museum, some in the Third Upper Egyptian Room and some in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. In 1997 they and other antiquities in the Egyptian galleries were removed from display to make way for major alterations that included the construction of the Great Court. This hiatus was timely, and museum curators used the opportunity to carry out a complete and painstaking restoration of the paintings.

While the paintings are being meticulously restored in the British Museum laboratories, let us turn our attention to the other father in our epic. Michel Mourad Cohen was a member of a Sephardic Jewish family from Aleppo in Syria who lived with his British wife, Sonia Douek, in Egypt, where their son Ronald was born. The family fled to England amidst the anti-Jewish sentiment in the aftermath of the Suez War, and there Ronald excelled at school and eventually became president of the Oxford Union and co-founder of the adventure capital firm Apax Partners. Among other interests Apax has supported the Middle East Peace initiative by funding Palestinian entrepreneurial activities.

Sir Ronald Cohen became a trustee of the British Museum in 2005. The Michael Cohen Gallery, which he and his third wife Sharon Harel-Cohen financed through the R and S Cohen Foundation, is dedicated to the memory of his father Michel.

"This whole gallery is about a son paying homage to his late father," the gallery's curator Richard Parkinson told Al-Ahram Weekly. "Nebamun's son can be seen making offerings to his dead father."

This sense of respect, even reverence, pervades the Michael Cohen Gallery in Room 61. A lowered false ceiling suggests the proportions of the original tomb, with a faint blue light from above indicating the brilliant desert sky. The walls are of French limestone, chosen because it was the closest match in colour and texture to the limestone of the Luxor hills. The paintings are arranged to evoke a visit to the tomb- chapel as would have been made 3,500 years ago. However, while past visitors would have come to admire the paintings, the objects depicted would have held little mystery for them. To help modern visitors visualise the scenes, similar items have been placed nearby. These concrete images help one understand objects people in the past would have known in reality. All the exhibits are contemporaneous with the paintings, and most come from Thebes, while others are from Amarna. They include wine jars, furniture, utensils, cosmetic spoons, jewellery, and even baskets and shoes. One prized piece is an opaque glass fish, probably tilapia, from the Amarna excavations . "We are very happy with the balance of information," Parkinson says. "The objects draw on the same information as the paintings and give a visual reality."

Like most artefacts preserved from ancient burials, the objects were owned by wealthier members of society. "We shall never know exactly what [life] was like," Parkinson says. "We especially don't know about the everyday lives of ordinary people. The lives of the wealthy are remembered."

Indeed, the scenes of Nebamun overseeing the temple's property, as dictated by his position, show how he spent his working day and how he wished to be remembered. The most alluring aspects of the paintings, however, are the scenes showing how Nebamun spent his leisure time hunting in the marshes and of birds, animals, plants and butterflies. One can only wonder at what went through d'Athanasi's mind when he first saw them, but he seems to have decided for himself which sections to take and what to leave behind. "We think they went for things that would appeal to the English taste -- feasts of food, fluffy animals, and gardens," says Parkinson in his illustrated book, The Painted Tomb-Chapel of Nebamun, which is available in Cairo.

The paintings would surely have drawn an audience in their day, even if the scenes might have been interpreted slightly differently by ancient admirers. "It was about the joy of life," Parkinson says. "But is the texture of the animals that sets them apart from similar paintings. These are the best- preserved butterflies from ancient Egypt." The prancing horse is one of the best known images of its kind, but the scene- stealer is Nebamun's ginger cat, seen busily catching his own birds.

Visitors to Room 61 can see the art as if hung in a gallery, much as Nebamun's contemporaries did. The idea, Parkinson says, is "to put them back into context and display them as works of art... comparable to Renaissance masters. We encourage people to look at them as paintings." They are accordingly displayed as though built into the tomb walls. The gallery contains 10 to 20 per cent of the original tomb paintings. One small fragment is on permanent loan from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, while the pieces in France were considered too fragile to travel. "We have tried to reconstruct the original tomb visit of ancient times," Parkinson says. "We have had constant dialogue with Egyptian and other archaeologists but we have no idea of the tomb's original place." So the setting is a result of intelligent approximation.

Despite their painful history the colours are incredibly vivid, although some blue and green pieces had fallen off because the pigments were more coarsely ground than others. The paintings are mounted in epoxy foam set in wooden boxes in steel frames on springs to protect them from vibration, and all the mounts are concealed inside the climate-controlled cases. "It was an engineering nightmare," Parkinson says.

And worth every effort. "We wanted to get something of what it was like to be an Egyptian looking at these paintings, and to give back to the paintings what was taken from them when they were taken away." Perhaps at last, and in a way they could never have imagined, Nebamun and his gifted artist have reached immortality.

 


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« Reply #98 on: April 18, 2009, 12:49:23 pm »



“In Egypt you need a project that everyone can believe in, a national project.
We have to learn from ancient Egypt.”

ZAHI HAWASS









                                  EGYPT'S TOMB RAIDER, OFF and (MOSTLY) ON CAMERA







The New York Times
MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: April 17, 2009
CAIRO

MORE than 2,500 years ago the mummified corpse of a wealthy man was carefully lowered into a hand-carved tomb 60 feet beneath the surface of the desert. His remains were placed inside a heavy limestone coffin and sealed for eternity.

Well, that was the idea.

Then one day in March 2009 workers inside the death chamber cracked the coffin lid in the middle, pushed aside one half and for the first time in two and a half millennia exposed the man’s remains. And who was there to greet this mummy?

Why even ask? This is Egypt, so it had to be Zahi Hawass.

“I think this guy was important,” Dr. Hawass said with a theatrical flourish, as he brushed some dust from the mummy for the cameras.

In the seven years since he was named general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Hawass has been in perpetual motion. He personally announces every new discovery, was the force behind plans to construct 19 new museums, approved the restoration of nine synagogues in Cairo and has contributed to countless books, documentaries, magazine and newspaper articles all promoting Egyptian antiquities — and, of course, himself.

Naturally, this does not always win him friends, and he has been taken to task for his critical statements about Jews. He insists, though, that he is not anti-Semitic and that his remarks were aimed only at Israeli Jews and their treatment of the Palestinians.

There are scientists who say he is too concerned with self-promotion and is often loose with facts. There are Egyptian antiquities workers who complain that he takes credit for their accomplishments. But his penchant for drama and his virtual monopoly over Egypt’s unrivaled ancient riches have earned him an international following and helped Egypt sell itself to tourists at a time when tourism dollars are increasingly scarce.

“Whether we like it or not, he is a star, and he lives the life of a star,” said Mahmoud Ibrahim Hussein, chairman of the antiquities department at Cairo University. “When he goes to a place, people gather around him to talk to him. Many professors give lectures; but people pay more to hear Zahi speak.”

Dr. Hawass was born in the village of Al Ubaydiyah, near the city of Damietta northeast of Cairo in the Nile Delta region. He joined the nation’s antiquities service as an inspector in 1969, about two years after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Greek and Roman archaeology from Alexandria University. In 1987, he received his Ph.D. after studying as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. On Jan. 1, 2002, he was named general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and he has never looked back.

It was 10:15 a.m., and Dr. Hawass was waiting at the base of a recent excavation. He was annoyed because he had to wait 15 minutes. He was tapping his foot. “You have become Egyptian,” he said to his tardy guests, then broke into a big white smile. Over the next hour, the 62-year-old Egyptologist would climb over ancient graves and down rickety ladders and lower himself deep into an ancient tomb — while at the same time recording video for his personal Web site.

HE is the very definition of multitasking. “Quick, take off your hat,” Dr. Hawass said. He was waving what looked like a replica of the Indiana Jones-style hat that he always wears. Actually, it was a replica, with his autograph embossed on the inside and a small tag with his picture hanging from the band.

“I gave one just like this to President Bush,” he said with the casual tone of a name dropper. “His wife said it was too small for his head. He was very disappointed.”

Dr. Hawass was standing inside a recently unearthed death chamber that had been carved out of the ground about 4,300 years ago for a pharaoh’s mother. At least, that was what he theorized. When the ruins do not reveal a detail, Dr. Hawass often tries to fill in the blanks, spinning stories based on his vast knowledge of Egyptian history — and his showman’s desire to attract the biggest crowd.

When a tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings three years ago, he surmised that it was built for King Tut’s mother, a sure way to drive up ratings, even as scientists involved in the dig rolled their eyes. The chamber was most likely a storage room, they said at the time.

He looks beyond filling in the blanks of the past. Dr. Hawass says he sees in the discoveries a way to salvage Egypt’s troubled present and its uncertain future. He thinks modern Egypt could benefit from uniting behind a “national project,” the way ancient Egyptians did when they built the pyramids and tombs.

“In Egypt you need a project that everyone can believe in, a national project,” Dr. Hawass said, standing beside a marvel of ancient craftsmanship, two massive slabs of red granite, carved with simple hand tools and hauled hundreds of miles north from the rocky terrain of Luxor to a small limestone pyramid here just outside of modern Cairo “We have to learn from ancient Egypt.”

His idea is not so outlandish, said Gamal Ghitany, editor of an Egyptian literary magazine. “Of course we need one today, but a national project means a larger goal that all of society can be united behind,” he said.

Dr. Hawass does not talk politics, and he gets impatient if he is asked to linger on a subject too long. Enough of the national project and the death chamber. He took off in his S.U.V. with a small entourage to show off the new cemetery, which was just recently discovered. Like the death chamber, the cemetery was discovered when the police caught thieves digging into the sand. Dr. Hawass said they excavated and revealed the largest continuously used cemetery in Egypt, with graves that spanned thousands of years.

Most of the tombs had been robbed in antiquity. But the one for the wealthy man remained intact. The entrance looked like a water well, with a timber positioned over the top, a rope twirled around the timber and a rubber basket tied at the end. Dr. Hawass jammed his left foot into the basket, grabbed hold of the rope and stood there as a team of workers lowered him down the shaft. “Hurry,” he shouted, as he spun and banged against the walls. “That was not too safe,” he acknowledged, when finally at the bottom.

The tomb was cool and dark, illuminated by a single light bulb. There were three shelves carved into the walls. One had four small mummies and a mummified dog. The other two were loaded with human bones and skulls.

THEN Dr. Hawass turned his attention to the coffin with the cracked lid and the intact mummy. “I think he was the mayor,” Dr. Hawass said. “He had to have money to be buried like this in limestone.”

By now, the workers had lowered a very large wooden ladder down the shaft so that Dr. Hawass could climb back up. Once outside, he shot some video for his Web site and then drove off. Less than two weeks later there was another discovery, dozens of brightly painted mummies found in a necropolis in Fayoum, the oasis town about two hours south of Cairo. There were 53 tombs uncovered, some dating back 4,000 years. And who made the announcement?

Well, this is Egypt. Who else?




Mona el-Naggar
contributed reporting.
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« Reply #99 on: April 24, 2009, 07:09:05 pm »











                                              The Mummy of the 'Pharaoh of Moses'






By Zahi Hawass
April 24, 2009
Al Ahram Weekly

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I recently read on the Internet the story of Ramses II's mummy.

We know that during the late 1970s the French president, Giscard d'Estaing, asked President Anwar El-Sadat if the mummy of Ramses II could be sent to Paris for conservation and preservation. Being that this mummy did not require any treatment, the real reason behind their request lay in their search for the Pharaoh of the biblical Exodus whom they believed to be Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, third ruler of the New Kingdom's 19th Dynasty. This ulterior motive, however, was never voiced to the authorities.

According to the holy books, the Pharaoh ruling in Moses's time drowned in the Red Sea during an epic chase after the parting of the waters. The French scientists were seeking evidence to prove the occurrence of this miraculous event.

The mummy of Ramses the Great was given a royal welcome at Le Bourget airport. Even the French president attended the glamorous ceremony. The mummy was then transferred to the French archaeological centre for examination.

One of the scientists responsible for the mummy's examination was a very dishonest man. He stole strands of Ramses II's hair and kept them for himself. Later on, his son attempted to sell the strands of hair on the Internet. With the help of our ambassador to France, Nasser Kamel, we were able to put an end to this and return the strands of hair to Cairo.

On the mummy's return to Cairo, reporters interviewed the French scientist about his findings. He stated that, inside the mummy, he had discovered a strange insect. The reporters laughed and called it a French insect. I seriously believe that sending the mummy of Ramses II to France was a big mistake.

Numerous false ideas about the mummy have recently been published. First, it has been said that the hands of the mummy are positioned differently than all other royal mummies, especially the left hand. This is inaccurate. Both Ramses II's arms are laid on his chest, just like all the other royal New Kingdom mummies. It has also been said that when the linen surrounding the mummy was untied the left arm jumped up, leading to the conclusion that the embalmers forced the mummy's arms position. Finally, some have stated that the laboratory results demonstrated the remains of salt inside the body of Ramses II, and that X-rays showed that many of his bones were broken. According to theorists, these results indicate that the Pharaoh drowned in the sea. They claimed that the strange position of his left hand indicated that he was holding the reins of a horse, while swinging a sword in his right. Furthermore, they added that while the Pharaoh was drowning he was attempting to push the water with his left hand, hence the reason for the embalmers having to force the left arm back into the traditional position.

I do not think that any of these ideas is correct. Egyptologists know that salt was used in the mummification process and that a great amount of salt is always found while examining mummies. For example, about 28 large jars full of natron, the type of salt used in mummification, were recently discovered in tomb KV 63 in the Valley of the Kings. Therefore, the fact that salt was found inside the royal mummy of Ramses II does not, by any means, prove that he drowned in the Red Sea. This said, I do not believe that there is any real evidence demonstrating that Pharaoh Ramses II drowned at all.

All these theories posted on the Internet are inaccurate, as the research conducted was not scientific.

It is my opinion that we should conduct further research into the lineage of Ramses II. Now that I have successfully had the mummy believed to be that of Ramses I flown back to Cairo from Atlanta, our scientists can investigate further into the true identity of this mummy. Lastly, with the help of the DNA labs and CT-Scanning machines in Cairo, the Egyptian Mummy Project can begin to determine the true identity of Ramses II's family members. These tests could, perhaps, also help us answer the everlasting question of whether or not Ramses II was truly the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Most importantly, the CT- Scanning machine can take up to 1,700 images which will reveal to be important evidence for our research.

It will be the first time that an Egyptian team has attempted this study.

 


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« Reply #100 on: April 24, 2009, 07:53:44 pm »









The ancient Exodus from Egypt has been a rich symbol for liberation movements and literature, but those who try to dig up the evidence of the mass migration say the proof is nowhere to find.

For the past several years archaeologists searching for desert routes or evidence of Joshua's conquest of Canaan have encountered a dead end.

Yet Bible scholars and historians continue the quest, amassing what circumstantial evidence they can find, but no real proof....
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« Reply #101 on: April 24, 2009, 07:55:29 pm »









                                        Did Moses really exist and did the Exodus ever take place?






Let's start with the prequel to the Exodus, the story of Joseph and his family. Excavations in the eastern delta
of the Nile have revealed a gradual increase in Canaanite pottery, architecture, and tombs, beginning about
1800 B.C.

As explained by Donald Redford, professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Toronto, in his book Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, these findings are broadly consistent with the tale of Joseph, the visits of his family to Egypt, and their eventual settlement there.[1] Archaeologists have identified the site of Avaris, the Egyptian city of that period that was the capital of a people known as the Hyskos, a name which translates from the Egyptian as "rulers of foreign land." Inscriptions and seals bearing the names of Hyskos kings indicate that they were Canaanites.

Although the Egyptian historian Manetho, writing in about 300 B.C. from an Egyptian perspective, asserts that Egypt was brutally invaded by the Hyskos, archaeologists believe the takeover was peaceful. However, the forceful expulsion of the Hyskos as described by Manetho is supported by other archaeological and historical sources. The most reliable evidence, according to Redford, suggests that Pharaoh Ahmose and his forces attacked and defeated the Hyskos in Avaris, and chased them out of Egypt into southern Canaan in 1570 B.C.[2]

The Roman-Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, citing Manetho, equates the expulsion of the Hyskos from Egypt with the Exodus. As Abba Eban points out, "this is plainly impossible,"[3] in the context of the Biblical chronology. The Book of Exodus states that Hebrew slaves built the city of Pi Ramses ("House of Ramses"). According to Egyptian sources, the city was built during the reign of Ramses II, who ruled 1279-1213 B.C. In other words, the Biblical Exodus would have had to have taken place 300 years after the expulsion of the Hyskos.

Of course there is also no evidence that the Hyskos were ever enslaved--or even Hebrews. Again quoting Abba Eban, "few modern scholars would go so far as to assert that the Hebrews and the Hyskos were the same people."[4] If the Hyskos were not the Hebrews, what then, is the earliest non-Biblical reference to this people?
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« Reply #102 on: April 24, 2009, 07:57:08 pm »











About a century ago, archaeologists found 350 tablets covered with cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language in the Egyptian village of El Amarna. These
tablets, dating to the 14th century B.C., contain numerous references to a people whose name is Habiru (or alternatively Hapiru or Apiru) in the Akkadian
language. The obvious phonetic similarity to "Hebrew" suggested to early scholars that the Habiru of the Amarna tablets and the Hebrews were the same people.

However, subsequent archaeological findings as described by Niels Lemche, professor of Old Testament studies at the University of Copenhagen, in his book Prelude to Israel's Past, indicated widespread use of this term throughout the near east over many centuries during the mid-second millennium B.C. The context of this usage makes clear that 'Habiru' "should not be understood as an ethnic group, but as some kind of social segment." There is no reference to the religious beliefs of the Habiru. The totality of ancient documents discovered, reviewed in detail by Lemche, suggests 'Habiru' is best translated, depending on the context, as 'bandit,' 'outlaw,' 'highwayman,' 'refugee,' 'fugitive,' or 'immigrant,' without any suggestion of ethnicity.[5] Thus, despite the phonetic similarity, the Habiru of the Amarna tablets are not the Hebrews of ancient Israel.

The earliest known non-Biblical reference to Israel is on the 27th line of inscription on a 7.5 foot high granite slab found in Thebes, Egypt, and dating to 1207 B.C.[6] This commemorative stone monument was commissioned by the son of Ramses II, Pharaoh Merneptah, to commemorate his military victories in Canaan, and is known as the Merneptah Stella. Israel is listed as one of eight "border enemies" vanquished by Egypt. The literal translation of the relevant line of Egyptian hieroglyphics is "Israel is stripped bare, wholly lacking seed."
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« Reply #103 on: April 24, 2009, 07:58:37 pm »










Although this claim is obviously an exaggeration, it is evidence that a group of people named Israel was living in Canaan during the reigns of Merneptah and presumably his father, Ramses II. What is most important, though, is the point emphasized by Israel Finkelstein, director of the Institute of Archaeology
at Tel Aviv University, and his colleague Neal Silberman, in their book The Bible Unearthed: "We have no clue, not even a single word, about early Israelites in Egypt: Neither in monumental inscriptions on walls of temples, nor in tomb inscriptions, nor in papyri."[7]

Similarly, William Dever, professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona, states in Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?: "no Egyptian text ever found contains a single reference to 'Hebrews' or 'Israelites' in Egypt, much less to an 'Exodus.'"[8] The ancient Egyptians were such compulsive chroniclers, albeit biased, that it is inconceivable that they would not record any version of an event as momentous as the Biblical Exodus. We should at least expect some self-serving or biased accounts of this extraordinary event, but there is absolutely no reference to any exodus of Hebrew slaves in the voluminous Egyptian writings.

In addition, archaeological excavations do not support the Biblical Exodus story. Modern archaeological techniques are able to detect evidence of not only permanent settlements, but also of habitations of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world as far back as the third millennium B.C.

However, there are no finds of a unique religious community living in a distinct area of the eastern delta of the Nile River ("Land of Goshen") as described in Genesis. In addition, repeated excavations of areas corresponding to Kadesh-Barnea, where the Biblical Israelites lived for thirty-eight of their forty-eight years of wanderings, have revealed no evidence of any encampments. Finkelstein and Silberman point out that, although the sites mentioned in the Exodus storyare real, archaeological excavations indicate that they were unoccupied when the Biblical Exodus would have taken place. For example, the Bible refers to messengers sent by Moses from Kadesh-Barnea to the king of Edom asking him to allow the Hebrews to pass through his land.

However, the nation of Edom did not come into existence until the 7th century B.C.[9] Melvin Konner, anthropologist and teacher of Jewish studies at Emory University, sums it up this way in his recent book Unsettled, An Anthropology of the Jews: "Except for the Torah text, there is no decisive proof that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, that they rebelled and walked away from the place, or that a leader such as Moses arose and took that people into the desert."[10] Futhermore, what evidence we do have, as discussed above, contradicts the Biblical account.

How, then, did this fable come to be written?
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« Reply #104 on: April 24, 2009, 07:59:55 pm »











Finkelstein and Silberman present the plausible thesis that the Deuteronomistic version of the Exodus, which brings together and embellishesthe chronicles in the first four books of the Torah, was written during the 7th century B.C. The intent of the story was to rally the inhabitants of Judah against Egypt, which had become its most powerful enemy as Assyrian hegemony waned.

Finkelstein and Silberman believe that the evil pharaoh in the Exodus story was actually modeled after the domineering Psamethicus I, who reigned from 664 to 610 B.C., approximately during the time that the Deuteronomistic version was written. This account was "powerful propaganda" that created "an epic saga to express the power and passion of a resurgent Judah's dreams" in order "to gird the nation for the great national struggle that lay ahead." In fact, the Egypt described in the Deuteronomistic account is "uncannily similar in its geographical details to that of Psamethicus."[11]

According to Redford, the memories of the Canaanite Hyskos ruling Egypt and subsequently being driven out (though not enslaved and not Hebrew) most likely formed the basis for the Exodus story.[12] The sequence of plagues in the Exodus may be related to the ancient Egyptian belief that the inability to worship multiple gods causes illness.

The Amarna tablets indicate that Akhnaten imposed monotheism on polytheistic Egypt during his reign between 1372 and 1354 B.C., allegedly causing the populace to suffer a variety of maladies, which abated with the restoration of polytheism by Akhnaten's successor.[13, 14]

Jonathan Kirsh notes that the basket-in-the-bullrushes infant-Moses story is clearly a "cut-and-paste" plagiarism copied almost verbatim from a Mesopotamian text.[15] In the words of Daniel Lazare, the stories of infant Moses, the plagues, and final exodus are "unconnected folktales," linked together "like pearls on a string."[16] What we have, according to David Denby, is a "self-confirming, self-glorifying myth of origins," with Moses as "the hero of the greatest campfire story ever told."[17]
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