Five years ago, if archaeologists digging up pharaonic ruins in Egypt found any human bones, they would usually throw them away. “Most Egyptian archaeological missions looked at human remains as garbage,” said Afaf Wahba, a young official at Egypt’s antiquities ministry. Now, however, a new generation of Egyptian archaeologists, including Wahba, are pushing to reform the ossified ministry for antiquities. [more inside]
Franck Goddio, an underwater archaeologist, shares the explorations of three recently re-discovered cities off the coast of Egypt, including Alexandria (1997 NOVA documentary *), Canopus, and Thonis-Heracleion (the Egyptian and Greek names for the city, not to be confused with the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis). A new documentary on Thonis-Heracleaion was produced for the Franco-German TV network, Arte, and you can watch the German version here. [more inside]
Libyan Desert Glass is strewn over an area of hundreds of square kilometers in the Great Sand Sea, a region desolate even by the high standards of the Sahara. As one account of a recent trip to acquire Libyan Desert Glass puts it: "Out there, death sits on your shoulder like a vulture." While some would have you believe that Libyan Desert Glass is evidence of ancient atomic warfare, it is probably evidence of a massive meteorite or comet explosion nearly thirty million years ago, similar to Tunguska, but much bigger. The stone age Aterian peoples made tools from it, but the remoteness and inhospitality of the Great Sand Sea has ensured that until recent times it has mostly been undisturbed. However, a breast ornament buried in Tutankhamen's tomb has a scarab made from Libyan Desert Glass, the only piece made of the material to have been found by Egyptologists, and how Tutankhamen's jewelers acquired it has remained a mystery. Until now. [Previously]
Ten thousand tourists have tramped above the spot where the latest find has just been made. Other archeologists, looking for the needle entrance to the royal tomb of Tutankhamen in the limestone haystack of el Qorn, came within a few feet of where, after sixteen years of labor, the late Lord Carnarvon and Mr. Howard Carter found their reward. National Geographic republished the photos (flash gallery) and the text of the 1923 account of the opening of the tomb of King Tutankhamun. [more inside]
Zahi Hawass, bombastic if nothing else, is proving successful in his ongoing push to repatriate Egyptian artifacts that may or may not have been illegally removed from the country. The Tetiky friezes were returned from France; next on the agenda are the iconic Nefertiti bust [MP3 audio], which is currently housed in Berlin’s Neues Museum, and the Rosetta Stone, which has lived at the British Museum for over two centuries.
The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
Akhetaten (a.k.a. Amarna) was the city built by Pharaoh Akhenaten, famous for his monotheistic beliefs and his queen, Nefertiti and son, Tutankhamun. The Amarna Letters has translations of correspondence sent to the Akhenaten, but a trove of it was found at the Amarna site. During his reign a distinctive style of art rose to prominence, only to vanish after his death. The Boston MFA has 40 objects from the era in its collection. Perhaps the most famous of the cultural artifacts of Akhenaten is the Great Hymn to Aten (hieroglyphics, four different English translations: 1, 2, 3, 4). This poem was set to music by Philip Glass for his opera Akhnaten (information about the opera). Some see direct parallels between The Great Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104. Though it was billed as a new beginning, like many utopias, Amarna was no haven for the regular folk who lived there.
King Tut's face revealed to the world The face of Egypt's most famous ancient ruler, King Tutankhamun, has been put on public display for the first time.
Fascinated by Egyptian archaeology? View and learn all about the discoveries in Giza, the Valley of the Kings (and Queens), Memphis and Saqqara and the Sphinx from the comfort of home. Depending on today's pesky sandstorms and time of day, you may even be able to see the pyramids from the comfort of your couch. Want to go inside? Yeah, me neither.
Locked in a Timeless Embrace: A third possibility. First documented gay couple (manicurists to the King) or just a case of conjoined twins? Same-sex closeness in historical Egypt.