Monday, July 27, 2015

Three newly discovered stelae at Wadi el-Hudi (Aswan)

Antiquities Minister, Dr. Mambouh Eldamaty declared today the discovery of three archaeological stelae at Wadi El-Hudi that hold inscriptions of historic importance. The discovery was made during the fieldwork conducted by an American Mission sponsored by Princeton University in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Aswan Inspectorate. The mission is overseen by Aswan Inspector Moataz Sayed Ibrahim, and directed by Kate Liszka, Cotsen Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University and Bryan Kraemer of the University of Chicago. Wadi el-Hudi lies 35 kilometers southeast of Aswan in the Eastern Desert.

Eldamaty added that the area includes several amethyst mines each connected with their own fortified settlements.
He elaborated that many of the discovered hieroglyphic inscriptions are faded therefore they still await extensive study and the team will use Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) photographic technology to delineate further detail.

From his side, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, Dr. Mahmoud Afify said the Wadi el-Hudi is an important area because it contained a number of amethyst quarries, a beautiful purple stone used in jewelry. Ancient Egyptians periodically sent several expeditions in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055-1650 BCE) to procure this precious stone.

Afify added that two of the carved granodiorite stones mentioned the 28th year of Senwosret I from Dynasty 12. They may also number various types of people who were part of the Egyptian expeditions into the desert, and these may relate to the founding of this site.

The famous Egyptian Archaeologist, Ahmed Fakhry was the first to publish these sites in 1952 and discussed their connection to amethyst quarries of Montuhotep IV of Dynasty 11 based on historic inscriptions connected with the hilltop settlement.

© Ministry of Antiquities, Press Office
Eman Hossni

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Two engraved reliefs unearthed on Red Sea coastline

The two 4,000 year old reliefs were discovered at the Ptolemaic royal port of Queen Berenice on the Red Sea coast 

By Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 22 Jul 2015 

During excavation works carried out by a Polish archaeological mission of Warsaw University at Berenice Port on the Red Sea coast, two engraved stony reliefs as well as coffins from different historic eras were unearthed.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that studies carried out revealed that the first relief belongs to the Middle Kindom because it bears the cartouche of the seventh king of the 12th Dynasty, King Amenemhat IV, whose reign was characterised by exploration for precious turquoise and amethyst on Punt Island. Meanwhile the second relief, which is in a bad conservation condition, can be dated to the Second Intermediate Period. After restoration, Eldamaty said, more information on the relief would be revealed.

Three Roman burials and parts of Berenice Temple's façade were also uncovered as well as a number of blocks of stone engraved with lotus and papyrus flowers, a standing goddess, and Greek texts. These texts, Eldamaty explains, are words of offering to the temple's gods.

After analysing satellite footage of the port and its surrounding area, scientists of the Polish mission uncovered the existence of a new archaeological site near the seaport of Berenice containing the of a long and narrow building with three platforms. Until now, said Eldamaty, no one can say for sure what the building was, but that further excavation would reveal more.

Berenice Port was established at the beginning of the 3rd century AD by King Ptolemy II who ordered campaigns to the East African coast to capture elephants to be used in battles. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ramesside period storerooms excavated at Sais

Antiquities Minister, Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty declared the The Durham/Egypt Exploration Society /Ministry of Antiquities team working at Sais - Nile Delta, excavated part of the magazine storerooms of the late Ramesside period. 

They discovered a complete assemblage of pottery food storage and preparation vessels within a large magazine of around 6m by 6m and a similar set of vessels in a neighbouring magazine, which still remain to be excavated.

Eldamaty added that outside this domestic area a series of circular mud features were noted, perhaps the bases of storage silos for grain or perhaps tree-pits for special kinds of fruit tree or plants.

On the other hand, Head of Ancient Egyptian Archaeology Sector Dr. Mahmoud Afify said that the discovered pottery jars were all in fragments but included globular cooking vessels, Canaanite amphora, ‘meat-jars’ and large Red Egyptian amphorae dating to the late 20th Dynasty.

Mission’s Director, Penny Wilson elaborated that The ceiling of the magazine had collapsed on top of the magazine in a catastrophic event which may have affected the whole Ramesside city, burying it under rubble. Late in the Third Intermediate Period a large walled structure was built upon the rubble and several phases of domestic activity were recorded either within or outside this large mud-brick wall. Large hearths associated with the houses were used for some time, being refurbished and reused when they became too full of ash. 

Throughout the material, some earlier broken fragments from the Old Kingdom can be found in the rubble attesting to the long time period of settlement at Sais.

Adding that, although the glorious city of Dynasty 26 is almost completely destroyed, the finds in the northern part of the Sais site confirm that there are two earlier cities preserved, complete but in many fragments. They could represent the powerful New Kingdom temple centre and the early Third Intermediate settlement of the Great Kingdom of the West. Further work on the pottery will enable more precise dating to be confirmed.

Press Office - Ministry of Antiquities

Monday, July 13, 2015

Rare find of Polish scientists in Egypt

The gift of the father of the legendary Cleopatra VII for an Egyptian temple, in the form of a linen cloth, has been discovered by Polish archaeologists during excavations in Western Thebes (modern Luxor) in Egypt.
Photocredit: A. Ćwiek

The discovery was made during the excavation of a several meters deep shaft of a tomb of a dignitary from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000 BC) in the necropolis Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. In the sixth century, the location was adapted by hermits - Christian monks - for housing purposes.
"Probably the monks living in the hermitage, who were bringing everything they could use from the surrounding area, found the canvas in the ruins of a nearby temple and took it with a practical use in mind. We were lucky to discover this unique object" - explained Andrzej Ćwiek, Deputy Head of Mission, an employee of Adam Mickiewicz University and the Archaeological Museum in Poznań. The excavations were conducted under the concessions obtained by the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw.
The unique find is a fragment of linen with a hieroglyphic text painted with ink. There are two columns of cartouches, ornamental borders around the name of the Pharaoh, Ptolemy XII Auletes (80-51 BC) - the father of the famous Cleopatra VII. In the third column, an ancient scribe put the name of the goddess Isis and epithets.
"Not all signs are readable, but the name Ptolmys (Ptolemy) can be seen as clearly an on the Rosetta Stone, the monument, which allowed Jean François Champollion to read hieroglyphic script" - explained Dr. Ćwiek.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

“Window on a lost world”: rediscovered papyri at UBC shed light on ancient Egypt

A reminder for a dinner invitation and a touching letter from a young man to his mother offer a rare glimpse of daily life in ancient Egypt, thanks to a recent rediscovery at UBC Library.

Scan of a dinner invitation. Credit: UBC Library

It’s believed that the small papyrus scraps, which fit in the palm of an adult hand, are the first of their kind in Western Canada. Both were excavated in Egypt, and made their way to UBC in the 1930s via the University of Michigan.

“Together, they reveal intimate details of life in Roman Egypt,” said Toph Marshall, a professor at UBC’s department of classical, near eastern and religious studies (CNERS). “These documents are a window on a lost world, revealing the daily activities of ordinary people.”

The invitation, similar to a calling or visiting card from Victorian England, summons guests “to dine at the couch of the lord Sarapis.” Meanwhile, the young man’s letter wishes his mother good health; he writes that he thinks of her daily and asks her to visit soon.

The letter is also notable due to some creative handiwork. Parts of it were cut and rearranged in the early 20th century to make it more appealing to the modern sensibilities of antiquities buyers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Poles discovered a unique 6.5 thousand years old burial in Egypt

Traces of intentional injury in the form of cuts on the femur have been discovered on the remains of one of the dead found during this year's excavations carried out in the Western Desert in Egypt. It is the first known case of such treatment from the Neolithic period in this part of Africa.

Discovery has been made by the expedition led by Prof. Jacek Kabaciński from the Poznań branch of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS. Polish research area in the desert, called Gebel Ramlah, is located near the southern border of Egypt with Sudan, about 140 km west of Abu Simbel. Poles have been working there since 2009 and making important discoveries from the beginning, including an unusual cemetery of newborns.
This year, they discovered a further part of the cemetery and investigated 60 new burials, this time belonging to adults. In the grave marked with number 11, which contained the remains of two dead, one bearing traces of deliberate damage to the body in the form of cuts on the femur - yet such treatments were unknown to scientists who study the Neolithic in North Africa and Eastern Europe. In another grave they discovered the remains of unprecedented in this area tomb structures, consisting of stone slabs which lined the interior of the cavity, in which the deceased had been buried.
Another interesting find, according to Prof. Kabaciński, is also the burial of a man whose body, after the burial, was showered with fragments of broken pottery, stone products and lumps of red dye. The remains of the deceased were also unusual - anthropologists noticed the pathology of numerous bones in the form of overgrowth of femoral bone, fractures and abnormal bone adhesions. Above his head archaeologists found a fragment of Dorcas gazelle skull with horns, which probably served as a headdress, worn during a ceremony. Similar finds known from European Paleolithic and Mesolithic sites suggest that it is a grave of a person who performed magical rites, perhaps associated with hunting - the researchers suggest.
Research project at Gebel Ramlah is carried out as part of the activities of the Combined Prehistoric Expedition IAE PAS, in collaboration with the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of University of Warsaw. The work is financed by the National Science Centre.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Naqada tombs uncovered in Egypt's Daqahliyah

Four pre-dynasty tombs have been uncovered at Tel Al-Farkha in the Nile Delta 

By Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 7 Jul 2015 

A Polish mission at Tel Al-Farkha in Daqahliyah has discovered four pre-dynastic tombs, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty announced on Tuesday.

Eldamaty said three of the tombs are in a very poor condition and include child burials. Meanwhile the fourth tomb is in very good conservation condition and can be dated to the Naqada IIIC2 era.

The minister told Ahram Online that the tomb is a small mastaba with two chambers. The southern one was filled with 42 clay vessels, mainly beer jars, bowls as well as a collection of 26 stone vessels of different shapes and sizes. Some of them are cylinder and globular. A collection of 180 small carnelian beads is also among the deceased funerary collection. The corpse of the deceased was also unearthed in the northern chamber.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, pointed out that the most important discovery was the remains of a brewery with fragments of two vats surrounded with multiple clay and burned fire-dogs.

Head of the Polish mission, Marek Chlodnicki, told Ahram Online that on the eastern sand pile located on the northern and eastern sides of the Naqada III mastaba, the mission discovered the remains of two huge buildings. The first is a rectangular shaped structure, with very thick walls and a row of rooms located on the eastern side of a wide courtyard, raised in Naqada IIIA1 period.

The second is a rounded structure, located on the north-eastern slope of the sand pile, built during the second half of the First Dynasty. Chlodnicki said that the rounded structure consists of double adjacent mud-brick walls, each 95cm thick, with the interior seven metres in diameter. Close to the rounded building, a unique ceramic big stamp with hieroglyphs was discovered.