Category Archives: Egyptologists

A new beginning.

Last year, I slacked off with writing this blog, but I’m very happy to be back and starting afresh.

As most of you know, 2011 was an extremely eventful year for the status of Ancient Egyptian antiquities and archaeology in Egypt.

January 2011 saw the Egyptian Revolution and opportunistic looting of many of Egypt’s museums and monuments. The following months saw the departments in charge of Egyptian antiquities and the invidiuals in charge of those departments go through various iterations.

As it stands now, in January 2012, Dr. Mostafa Amin is the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (which now reports directly to Egypt’s Cabinet and Prime Minister).

Excavations continue in Egypt and experts are also focused on repairing objects and sites that have been damaged in the past year.

2012 has already seen a mix of good and bad in the state of Egyptian antiquities.

Thousands of valuable and irreplaceable manuscripts housed in the Institut d’Egypte were badly damaged or destroyed by fire during ongoing conflicts between Egyptian demonstrators and the Egyptian army. Teams of experts and volunteers are now working on correcting the fire damage and mitigating the water damage (from putting out the fires).

Books drying

Damaged books and manuscripts drying in the sun.

From the Valley of the Kings near Luxor comes better news. The discovery of the officially designated King’s Valley 64 (KV 64) was announced just last week. The tomb itself was discovered in January 2011 on the same day as the Egyptian Revolution began, but was hastily secured and left unexcavated until this season. The current occupant of the tomb is not the original occupant, but a later burial of a female temple singer named Nehmes-Bastet. Excavations at the tomb are ongoing.

Coffin of Nehmes-Bastet

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Filed under Archaeological Discoveries, Egyptologists, Museum, Object Restoration

ARCE Annual Conference

Every year, ARCE (the American Research Center in Egypt) hosts its annual meeting in some U.S. city; the city varies from year to year, but there are repeats (and traditionally, every 10 years, the conference is held at the University of California, Berkley).

I’ve attended for the past four years, and my only regret is that I didn’t start attending sooner.

Going to the entire conference every year appeals almost exclusively to the most hardcore fans of scholarly work in Egyptology because of the time and money involved. Although reasonable for a scholarly conference, the non-student ARCE member registration cost of $150 makes some balk, as does the idea of 2.5 days of lectures. But the ARCE annual meeting offers an incredible opportunity for those who choose to attend, and has a draw for many of us; this year there were a record 450 attendees!

Using this year’s conference as an example, here’s what you can expect from the ARCE annual meeting: sessions begin at around 8:30am on Friday and Saturday and run till 4:30pm (with a lunch break and short morning and afternoon breaks), with Saturday’s sessions starting at 9:00am and running only till 12:30pm.  This can make the days feel extremely long, though of course attendees are welcome to skip sessions at their discretion. Most years, the conference also includes a Friday night activity such as a museum reception or special lecture, along with a Saturday night reception for ARCE members.

Papers presentations take 20 minutes, with a 10 minute break to move between rooms; each session has four papers, and there are generally four sessions running concurrently. Attendees are welcome to stay for an entire session, or move between rooms based on the topics of individual lectures. Sessions are divided into general groups. This year’s topics were

Archaeology

Religious topics

History

Greco-Roman Topics

Art history

Coptic studies

Language and literature

Islamic archaeology

Religion and ritual

Mamaluk studies

Egyptology topics

Funerary arts

Conservation

With such a ride array of topics, any Egyptologist can find lectures they’re interested in; in many cases, there were so many interesting lectures that I wished I could be in two places at once.

With very few exceptions, the lectures are informative and entertaining. The most famous lecturers or most interesting lectures sometimes end up being standing room only!

Some of my favorite lectures this year were Dr. Ben Harer’s “OB-GYN in Ancient Egypt,” Kate Liszka’s “Ethnogenesis of the Medjay,” Dr. Salima Ikram’s “New Sites in the Kharga Oasis,” and Dr. Gay Robins’ “The Meanings of Individual Items Depicted on Tables of Offerings in Funerary Contexts.”

If none of those lecture titles appeal to you, check out the full line-up from this year, and you’ll see how many different subjects there really are.

Hopefully I’ll see you at the 2012 meeting in Providence, R.I.

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Filed under Egyptological Resources, Egyptologists

He’s Back: Hawass as Minister of Antiquities

Yep, Hawass is now Minister of Antiquities again.

Apparently, Hawass has decided the situation of the antiquities is stable and secure enough for him to resume his duties.

The world is watching…again.

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Hawass’ Resignation

Hawass talks about his reasons for resigning on his blog.

Long explanation short–it just hurts too much too much to see that he can’t actually protect Egypt’s artifacts.

But he’ll come back if the police return to protect the sites.

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Filed under Egyptologists, Hawass, Modern Egypt

Hawass Resigns

According to the New York Times article of March 3, it seems that Zahi Hawass’ resignation may be official.

I’m reeling a bit…

Hawass really has done a lot for Egyptology.

He has helped oversee regulations regarding excavation and public tourism in Egypt in an effort to both promote tourism and keep the sites safe. He spearheaded the project to build a new museum to house Egypt’s artifacts and projects to help provide Egyptological training for native Egyptians. He has also been the head of the numerous individuals who who analyze, organize, and preserve the ancient artifacts in Egypt. Hawass made himself the face of Egyptian antiquities and promoted tourism in Egypt and awareness of ancient Egyptian artifacts throughout the world.

But he’s done more than that.

Hawass did everything he could to make himself THE name, and the ultimate authority, in popular Egyptology, to the detriment of the field as a whole. He has offended those who work for or with him by repeatedly taking credit for their discoveries. His tight-fisted hold on “Egypt’s heritage” led him to demand the repatriation of famous Egyptian artifacts throughout the world, on the basis that only Egypt should have the most rare or incredible objects. That desire for exclusive control has also helped contribute to the difficulty of non-Egyptian archaeologists obtaining work permits for excavation or study in Egypt, and to a lesser extent, the spread of misinformation to tourists (tours in Egypt must be lead by Egyptian tour guides, who, knowingly or unwittingly, pass on misinformation to the tourists). Hawass’ showboating has often made other professional Egyptologists cringe, and I don’t think most of us will be sad to see him go.

I am, however, worried about the timing and what this might do to the security of the antiquities…

Thoughts?

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Filed under Egyptologists, Hawass, Modern Egypt

Hawass Says He Might Resign

According to a New York Times Arts Beat article, Dr. Hawass is so frustrated with the situation in Egypt and his inability to protect the monuments and artifacts (since the police are no longer actively protecting the sites) that he is considering resigning.

I’d love to see a transcript of this telephone interview–I can’t imagine Hawass saying (and meaning) he wants to resign.

What do you think?

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Filed under Egyptologists, Hawass, Modern Egypt, Uncategorized