NEWS: Burial chamber discovered in Asasif on Luxor’s west bank

The burial chamber and sarcophagus of a 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor has been discovered (Source: Ahram Online).

“During excavation and cleaning work carried out in the tomb of the 25th Dynasty Thebes Mayor Karabasken in south Asasif, on Luxor’s west bank, the Egyptian American South Asasif Conservation Project discovered his burial chamber and sarcophagus.

“The sarcophagus is a unique example of Kushite sarcophagi in an elite tomb,” Mahmoud Affifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities told Ahram Online, adding that the sarcophagus is carved in plain red granite and does not bear any engravings or paintings.

Elena Pischikova, director of the archaeological mission, explained that the burial chamber was found accidently during excavation work carried out in a room of the tomb. As an was found in its centre and it led to the burial chamber.
Pischikova said that the base and lid of the sarcophagus bore deliberate damage — evidence of two attempts to break into the sarcophagus at some time in antiquity.
“The interior of the sarcophagus was flooded after the first attempt, but further cleaning work will show if any fragments of the wooden coffin or other burial equipment are still preserved inside,” Pischikova said” – via Ahram Online.


NEWS: Polish archaeologists studied a unique necropolis in Egypt

Shafts I, IX and X in the temple of Hatshepsut (Source: PAP Science and Scholarship in Poland).

“Archaeologists have summed up the 10-year study of an unusual cemetery, which was founded in the times of unrest in Egypt – the so-called Third Intermediate Period, when the power in Egypt was taken over by the kings who came from Libya, and then from the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which is today’s Sudan. The latter were described as “black pharaohs”.

Even before the year 900 BC, Hatshepsut temple was destroyed by great cataclysm. Probably as a result of an earthquake, hundreds of tons of debris fell on the sanctuary from the surrounding hills. The famous temples of Karnak and Luxor located on the east bank of the Nile also sustained serious damage.

“Members of the royal family – XXIII and XXV dynasty – took advantage of the situation. They consciously decided to build tombs on the upper terrace of the ruins of the Temple of Hatshepsut” – told PAP Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, leader of the Polish-Egyptian restoration and archaeological mission in the temple of the famous queen. According to the researcher, even after its destruction the temple considered a sacred place.

In total, scientists have discovered nearly 20 tombs. The entrance in the form of several meters deep shaft carved into the rock, ending in a single, undecorated burial chamber, was located in the floor of the temple.

“Not just anyone was buried here. We know that two viziers rest here, second persons in the country after the pharaoh. They were also members of royal families and high-ranking priests” – said Dr. Szafrański. Among the deceased was also the wife of the king’s son. Interestingly, over time more mummies were placed in the burial chambers, but ones belonging to the same social circle.

Dr. Szafrański noted that the overground part of the tomb, or chapel, where the cult of the dead took place, had an important role in the beliefs of the Egyptians. Builders of the graves skilfully used the preserved walls of the temple of Hatshepsut. They carved the tomb entrances near the decorations in the form of sacrificers or blind doors – thus they did not waste time on carving similar depictions, just skilfully annexed those from 800 years before. Blind doors were the places where the offerings were being placed.

“Thus, gifts, that on decorations were being carried for Amon or for Hatshepsut, were symbolically given to those resting in the new tombs” – said Dr. Szafrański.

The majority of the graves were robbed in ancient times. Still, among the rubble archaeologists managed to find objects which allowed to identify the first owners of the tombs. These finds included fragments of cartonnage, the shells of sarcophagi containing the mummies. Cartonnage was made of layers of cloth, glue, ground limestone and gypsum. The shells were richly decorated with paintings and hieroglyphs, from which the title and name of the deceased could be read.

“Despite the political turmoil at the time, they were made at a very high artistic level” – Dr. Szafrański assessed both the paintings and the processing of material of which they had been made.

In the plundered tombs archaeologists also managed to find ushebti figurines (which symbolically were supposed to work instead of the deceased after his death), fragments of bandages, in which the mummies were wrapped, faience jewellery. There was also a wooden figurine coated with gold plate.

“But the most important discovery for us are texts – visible on cartonnage, bandages and figurines. Such discoveries allow us to reconstruct the family trees of the ancient Egyptians” – added the archaeologist.

According to Dr. Szafrański, one of the tombs, belonging to the Vizier Padiamonet, had been partially opened for tourists. Above its entrance in the floor of the temple of Hatshepsut, armoured glass has been installed, allowing secure view of the tomb shaft.

Polish archaeologists have been studying and reconstructing the temple of Hatshepsut since the 1960s. The work is conducted under the auspices of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw” – via PAP Science and Scholarship in Poland.

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NEWS: Mummy of ‘very important’ female figure discovered in Aswan

A 12th dynasty mummy of a prominent ancient Egyptian noblewoman was unearthed in Upper Egypt by a Spanish archaeological mission (Source: Ahram Online).

“Spanish excavators from Jaén University discovered the 12th dynasty mummy of an Egyptian noblewoman named Sattjeni during excavation work at the Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis west of Aswan.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that Sattjeni was the mother of two renowned Elephantine governors, Heqaib III and Amaeny-Seneb, under the reign of King Amenemhat III around 1800-1775 BCE.

Afifi said the mummy was found wrapped in linen inside two wooden sarcophagi carved in cedar exported from Lebanon.

Remains were found on the mummy of Sattjeni’s cartonnage funerary mask.

The inner coffin was in such good condition that experts could possibly determine the year the cedar tree – used to make the coffin – was cut down.

Nasr Salama, director of the ministry’s Aswan and Nubian Antiquities Department, said that Sattjeni was a key figure in Elephantine, as she was the daughter of the nomarch Sarenput II as well as the mother of the two governors.

According to Salama, Sattjeni was also the unique holder of dynastic rights in the government of Elephantine after the death of all the male members of her family. 

The Spanish mission – led by Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano – that made the discovery has been working in west Aswan since 2008.

The mission has discovered over several archaeological seasons a number of intact burial sites from different periods, including the tombs of government officials Haqa-Ib and Sabny.

The mission has also made a discovery of an unidentified skeleton believed to be of the oldest breast cancer patient ever found” – via Ahram Online.


NEWS: Outcomes of the Second International Tutankhamun Conference

“‘It is essential to perform more scans using other devices atthe Tutankhamun Tomb (KV62) at the Valley of the Kings- Luxor using more technical and scientific methods and radar devices’ is one of a number of recommendations reached at the end of the Second International Tutankhamun Conference that was held today (May 8th 2016) at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

Antiquities Minister Dr. Khaled El-Enany emphasized at the open scientific discussion that came at the end of the conference that no drilling will be done at the tomb’s walls unless we are 100% certain that there is a cavity behind them. Egyptology and radar experts participated in the final session among them former antiquities ministers Dr. Zahi Hawas and Dr. Mamdouh Eldamaty, the Japanese radar expert Prof. Watanabe, Dr. Yaser El-Shayeb from the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and a number of Egyptian archaeologists and stakeholder.

In his lecture, former Antiquities Minister Dr. Zahi Hawas said that radar scan is not sufficient alone to make a new archaeological discovery stressing that he is against the British scientist Nicholas Reeves’ hypothesis that Queen Nefertiti’s tomb exist behind that of King Tut’s. Hawas added that a scientific committee consisting of archaeologists, radar experts and remote sensing experts should be formed immediately to supervise the works inside the tomb.

Former antiquities minister Dr. Eldamaty also gave a lecture entitled “the Rediscovery of the Tutankhamun Tomb” in which he summed up all the work steps that have been made at the radar scan project at the Golden Pharaoh’s tomb, expressing that the results reached so point out that there is a 50% possibility of a cavity behind the Tomb’s walls.

In a related context, Dr. Tarek Tawfik – General Supervisor on the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Project added that among the recommendations of this conference came the formation of an Egyptian Archaeological Committee with the assistance of foreign experts aiming at drawing a road map for the transfer process of the Golden Pharaoh’s fragile artifacts that are sensitive to light and motion. Also the Tutankhamun’s Research Center that was established last year will be provided with a web channel to publish all the researches and studies related to the Boy King” – Ministry of Antiquities press release via the Egyptologists’ Electronic Forum.

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NEWS: Three day Tutankhamun conference to start in Egypt Friday

The second international conference on the mysterious King Tutankhamun is to begin Friday morning at the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau (Source: Ahram Online).

“A three-day conference will host on Friday a large number of local and international Egyptologists and scholars from all over the globe to discuss King Tutankhamun and his treasured funerary collection, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Ahram Online on Thursday.

Tarek Tawfik, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) general supervisor, said that the GEM’s visitors’ centre will host the conference for the first two days, while the third day will be held at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Fustat on 8 May.

Tawfik said that a number of scientific lectures will be delivered about King Tutankhamun’s costumes and jewellery, and a review and discussion will take place on the latest results of the recent radar scan survey carried out on his tomb in Luxor” – via Ahram Online.


NEWS: What’s REALLY inside a pyramid: First 3D images created using cosmic particles show hidden tunnels inside mysterious structure

Last week, archaeologists revealed the first results of their work involving the Bent pyramid, 25 miles south of Cairo. The 3D images show the internal chambers of the 4,600-year-old structure, as well as clearly revealing the shape of its second chamber (Source: Daily Mail).

“The pyramids of Egypt have held their secrets for more than 4,500 years. 

Now, Egyptian and foreign experts have begun unraveling their mysteries with the help of space particles. The team are using ‘cosmic rays’ to create maps that show the internal structures of these ancient wonders – and they say they could hold some surprises. 

Last week, archaeologists revealed the first results of their work involving the Bent pyramid, 25 miles south of Cairo. The 3D images show the internal chambers of the 4,600-year-old structure, as well as clearly revealing the shape of its second chamber. 

Located at the royal necropolis of Dahshur, the Bent pyramid was one of the earliest to be built under the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu. It has two entrances, which opens onto two corridors leading to two burial chambers arranged one above the other. Some had suggested pharaoh Sneferu was buried inside the pyramid in an hidden chamber, but the latest scans have ruled out that possibility. 

The Scan Pyramids project, which announced in November thermal anomalies in the 4,500 year-old Khufu Pyramid in Giza, is coupling thermal technology with muons analysis to try to unlock secrets to the construction of several other ancient Egyptian pyramids” – via The Daily Mail.

Read more and view a video here.


NEWS: No more surveys on Tutankhamun’s tomb until project discussed 8 May

The gold mask of Tutankhamun (Source: Ahram Online).

“Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany did not stop a radar survey on King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, as rumoured, but rather postponed all works inside the tomb until a scientific discussion is held 8 May.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany did not stop radar surveys on King Tutankhamun’s tomb upon the request of former minister Mamdouh Eldamaty or Egyptologist Nicolas Reeves.

Rather, he has postponed any survey until a scientific discussion takes place among scholars during the second round of the international seminar on Tutankhamun scheduled 8 May.
El-Enany told Ahram Online that news articles reporting the contrary are unfounded.

“All scientific works have been postponed since the second and last radar survey [conducted at the end of March], in order to discuss the whole project and Reeves’ theory among scholars during the upcoming seminar at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM),” he added.
The results of previous radar surveys, carried out by Japanese radar expert Hirokatsu Watanabe and an American survey carried out by Eric Berkenpes, would be discussed as well as Reeves’ claimis that Tutankhamun’s burial chamber conceals Queen Nefertiti’s resting place.
Reeves proposed his theory last August after close examination of high-resolution 3D laser scan photographs taken by the Spanish Factum Arte Organisation in creating a replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb, now erected in the area adjacent to the resthouse of its discoverer on Luxor’s west bank.
The first radar survey carried out on November by Watanabe revealed anomalies and empty space behind the west and north walls of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
The survey carried out in March by the American expert from the Geophysical Search Survey Inc produced data and indications, but the results were not announced because time for more study was needed to reach a definitive conclusion” – via Ahram Online.