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Ancient Egypt Fan
Egyptological Society of Ireland (ESI)
We are a small society founded in 1987 consisting of about 50 members who are interested in all things connected with Ancient Egypt. We hold six meetings throughout the year and produce a Newsletter every two months for our members. We have members in many parts of the world as far away as USA, Netherlands and Germany as well as in Ireland itself. Members contribute articles to our newsletter as well as helping out with lectures and slid shows.
From time to time we invite visiting lecturers to Ireland and we organise public talks on various topics connected with Ancient Egypt. David Breslin our current Secretary/Treasurer was a founder member and has always had a great passion for Ancient Egyptian history. If you are interested why not check us out, we would be delighted to hear from you.
Click Here To view ESI highlights and events since it's inception.
E.S.I. Newsletter (Sept 2003) ...part of
David's visit to the Louvre and Egyptian Exhibition
The ESI committee hope that all our members had a very enjoyable summer whether enjoying the sunny weather in Ireland or abroad? I wonder if any of you went to visit Egypt for a vacation this summer? Maybe you visited some Egyptian collections or exhibitions in museums? If so we would like you to share those experiences with us by writing about them in our Newsletter.
Our Secretary David Breslin, travelled to Paris on 28th June to attend the Fifth International Conference on Deaf History which began on 30th June and continued to 4th July. This coincided nicely with an exhibition of " Shabtis: Pharaonic Workers for Eternity" held in the Louvre until the last day of June so that he had just time to see it. The exhibition contained over a hundred exhibits of various colours and shapes including some with hieroglyphic inscriptions on the ushabits. The catalogue book of Egyptian Ushabtis was on sale at a cost of 100 Euro.
The museum shop had quite a large section of books on the arts, history of artists, antiquities, Art magazines as well Minerva, KMT, and other Egyptian archaeology magazines for sale. This was well worth browsing at all the wonderful material. David spent ten hours touring in the Louvre with two Deaf friends viewing all the famous paintings, sculptures, antiquities etc. He saw the exhibition of Leonard da Vinci also. Unfortunately, some sections of Egyptian collection were closed to the public due to a leak from the roof but other section - those of the mummified animals, reptiles, birds, human mummies and anthropoids on the floor below was open. David and friends enjoyed exploring the museum and stayed there till late in order to see as much as they could.
Dr. Jaap and Julia Djik were in Vienna, Austria, recently and visited Kunsthistorisches Museum and saw the famous collection of Egyptian Antiquities. They sent a postcard of Hippotamus; Faience to David Breslin. Thanks to Jaap and Julia for the card.
Egyptian Ambassador's return to Egypt
The Secretary of the Egyptian Embassy, Ballsbridge, Dublin informed David that the Ambassador Ashraf Rashed and his wife would be returning to Egypt this month after four years service in Ireland. It is very sad to see them leaving Ireland. We will never forgot him and he will always be in our thoughts. Mr. Rashed was very active in inviting many Egyptologists including Dr. Zahi Hawass to Ireland during his time here. We would like to thank him for his interest in our society and all the help and encouragement he has given to us. Austin and Pamela Marry attended a farewell reception for Mr. Rashed at the ambassador's residence in Cabinteely before he left. There was a big turn out to wish him and his family well and many notable dignitaries were present. It is not known yet who will be new ambassador in Ireland.
Controversy over mummy of Nefertiti
Over the past few weeks newspapers and TV were fixated with the claims of the discovery of the forgotten and lost mummy Queen Nefertiti, the Great wife of monotheist Pharaoh Akhenaten? She was discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) by Victor Loret (1859~1946), the French archaeologist, in the Valley of the Kings in 1898, west Luxor. Research was carried on the mummy by Dr. Joanne Fletcher, Director of the University of York’s Mummy Research Team, UK early this year.
The SCA Dr Zahi Hawass has dismissed the claims of Joanne, that the mummy is that of Nefertiti. Dr. Hawass describes it ‘as pure fiction’, noting that several mummies in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo share the same characteristics.
Zahi Hawass on behalf of the SCA is also continuing to demand the return of the Queen Nefertiti bust to Egypt from the Berlin Museum and the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum, London. The royal mummy of the first king of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Rameses I, his son Seti 1 and grandson Rameses II, will be returned from the Michael C. Carlo Museum, Atlantic, Georgia, USA to the Royal Mummies in the Egyptian Museum in October.
Congratulations to Helen Mooney
One of our Society members Ms Helen Mooney from Kill, Co. Kildare, informed me that she had a baby boy born last February. We wish to congratulate Helen on the birth of her baby and hope both are doing well and are in good health.
International News (in brief)
SCA wants back Rosetta Stone
The Supreme Council of Antiquities are calling for the British Museum to return the 2,200-year-old Rosetta Stone to Cairo. The artefact is one of the British Museum’s most prize pieces, helping to attract millions of visitors each year.
The stone was discovered in 1799 at the mouth of the Nile and provided a key insight into hieroglyphics because it was accompanied by the Greek translation. The French yielded it to the British in 1801 and it has been housed in the British Museum since 1802.
The Egyptian government is now asking the UK to loan it to the Cairo museum for a three-month period, something the British Museum is unlikely to grant, with a view to taking it back for good.
Vivian Davies, Egyptian curator at the British Museum, told BBC News: "What curator in the British Museum would actually want to see leave an object that is absolutely core to our function as an institution that not only presents Egyptian antiquities but also Egyptian antiquities as a part of the civilisation of the world."
The British Museum officials said: "The trustees do not consent to the loan of what might be called "iconic" objects". The SCA wants the Rosetta Stone for three to six months for the opening of a new wing in the Egyptian Museum.
There are Egyptian antiquities in museum collections around the world, with the Berlin Museum holding the bust of Queen Nefertiti - another relic Egypt wants returned. The Greek government has continually been rebuffed over its pleas to the British Museum to hand over the ancient Elgin Marbles frieze.
The black granite Rosetta Stone was unearthed by a French soldier at the Rosetta Fort in the village of el-Rashid in the western Delta of Egypt. It is dated to 27 March 196 BC, the anniversary of the coronation of Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
The stela later enabled the French Jean-Francois Champollion to decipher the writings of Pharaonic Egypt as it contained a decree by Ptolemy V in hieroglyphics, demotic and Greek scripts, opening the door to an understanding of the ancient Egyptian writing.
Byzantine Gold coins found
A Hungarian archaeological team in Abu Qir, west Alexandria, unearthed a crock of Byzantine five gold coins and a gold bracelet dating back to the 4th century.The coins have been taken to the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria to be prepared for display.Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, who is also man of Antiquities Authority, said that the artefacts were found in the area known as Tabo Osiris Magna, founded by Ptolemy II (282-246 BC), 45 km to the west of Alexandria. The Original temple in this city was dedicated to the cult of Isis and was later converted into a fortress in the Roman era.
The temple was restored during the Byzantine age, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said, adding that according to Church records, monks built a church in the fortress courtyard.
Italian archaeologists found tomb
A tomb dating to the late Pharaonic age about 400BC has been unearthed by Italian archaeological team excavating on Nelson Island in the Mediterranean, 4km from Abu Qir Bay.The tomb contained three mummies, which were badly damaged by sea water, some earthenware utensils and a number of Shabti figures represented the servants of the deceased in the afterlife. Most of the shabtis are decorated with text from Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead.
The excavation team also found remains of French sailors, soldiers and officers who fought in the battle of Abu Qir in 1798. The remains were easily identified due to the good preservation off their uniforms, bullets, rosaries bearing crosses, and military buttons were also discovered.
Some corpses were wrapped in shrouds while others were buried in their hammocks. A wooden coffin found in a tomb, contained the body of a company captain completed with his uniform.
250 hidden artefacts retrieved in Egyptian Museum
Egypt has blown the dust off 250 Pharaonic artefacts retrieved from the basement of the Egyptian Museum and store rooms across the country for a display of long-ignored treasures - many that were virtually reburied under the museum’s vast collection of the 160,000 artefacts, which officials say is the largest in the world. For years underneath the Egyptian Museum there was a treasure that was not so much hidden but forgotten. Now the basement that once contained corridors of storage rooms crammed with forgotten artefacts has been turned into another exhibition hall. For the first time visitors to the worlds’s largest collection of antiquities can be seen more.
For the past several decades hundreds of pieces, many excavated in the early 1960’s, were just left in the museum’s basement for safe-keeping and were only recently re-discovered.
Among the artefacts on display at the "Hidden Treasures" exhibition are pieces from the tomb of the 14th century BC Pharaoh Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922. The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities says the boy-king’s solar boats, miniature replicas of the boats believed to have taken the pharaoh’s spirit into the afterlife, were amongst the forgotten treasures.
While this new exhibition has given the museum more room to display its 160,000 artefacts, many are still crammed into inadequate display cases. So, it plan to drastically reduce the amount of antiquities here and hopes to build a new $350 million museum near the Pyramids Plateau.
Rare statue of temple servant unearthed
A limestone statue of Kakar, one of the servants of Amun temple was unearthed in the area Tel-Basta in Zagazig, in the Delta. Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said a mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities also discovered the remains of octagonal-shaped limestone columns with hieroglyphic inscriptions dating back to the same era of the statue, the New Kingdom 1550 - 1069 BC.
He said this confirms the existence of other parts of the temple built by Pharaoh Rameses II, expected to be discovered soon.
SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass said the 70 centimetres tall statue depicts Kakar in the sitting position wearing a wig, with engravings Hathor, the Pharaonic goddess of Love and Beauty, adoring the statue at the front, in addition to hieroglyphic inscriptions on its pedestal.
The back of the statue contains four columns in ancient Egyptian language mentioning several gods of Egypt worshipped in Tel-Basta, including Ra, Horus, Amun, Osiris, Anubis and Ptah.
A 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy fetched a world record £883,750 at Christie’s in London. The mummified body of a priest of Amun, plus the ornate wooden sarcophagus that has housed the body since about 950BC, was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder.
New restoration laboratory in Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum’s new restoration and maintenance laboratory was inaugurated in the early of this month. The establishment of the laboratory is the result of cooperation between the American Research Centre and the US Agency for International Development.
The laboratory is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment to handle restoration of all types of artefacts, said Secretary-General Zahi Hawass. He added that a hall for practical and theoretical training has also been established for SCA restorers.
Museum director Mamdouh Al Damati said the laboratory has been upgraded to deal with the increasing volume of artefacts requiring regular maintenance. He added that the new laboratory has been established in previously unused rooms on the museum’s ground floor. New equipment includes ultrasonic devices for restoration work and digital cameras to register the artefacts in the museum.
Tomb of Akhenaten’s scribe found
French Egyptologist Alain Zivie has discovered a superbly decorated Amarna period 1350-1333 BC tomb which sheds new light on this most fascinating period of Egyptian history, when Pharaoh Akhenaten famously brought about a religious revolution by adopting one god above all others.
The new discovery is sited in Sakkara, the area known mainly for the stepped pyramids of the Old Kingdom, the 27th century BC. A cliff in this area was used for tombs by members of the Egyptian nobility in the New Kingdom, the 15th~13th century BC, which were reused centuries later as receptacles for mummified cats. Until now, archaeologists had always assumed the area was of no other archaeological interest.
Dr Zivie had been excavating the site on behalf of the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique for the past 15 years before his remarkable new discovery: the tomb of a scribe who worked in the temple of Aten, both in Memphis and in Amarna.
One of the most interesting details of the find is that the scribe had two names: Raya, typical of the new Atenian religion, because it contains a reference to the sun, and Hatyiay. This last name is thought to have been composed around the name of a god: "I am made in the likeness of Amun".
The implication of this double name is that when Akhenaten came to the throne, the scribe embraced the new religion and changed his name but also kept a reference to the old gods as well.
The tomb has been dated to the second half of Akhenaten’s reign because of the form of the name of Aten, found in the inscription, which is typical of the period. In the reliefs which line the tomb walls, Raya’s face is depicted in the same extreme fashion as that of Akhenaten in his royal tomb. According to Dr Zivie, the quality of the relief work is very close to that seen in a royal house. "The decoration of the tomb is reminiscent of some of the exceptional work created by the so called studio of Thutmosi in Amarna. The decoration is typical of the period, with all its characteristic immediacy and freshness and the colours are very well preserved."
SCA denied Nefertiti claims by British team
In response to news about discovery of the mummy of Queen Nefertiti, the SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass criticised British scientist Dr Joan Fletcher. Dr Fletcher, a member of a British archaeological team working in Luxor, recently claimed that the team from York University, England unearthed Nefertiti from a secret tomb (KV35) in the Valley of the Kings.
Nefertiti, which means ‘the beautiful woman has come’, was the wife of the heretic Akhenaten, and was long considered to have been the most powerful woman in Ancient Egypt.
Her tomb was found near the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen who ruled Egypt in the 14th century BC, and whose tomb was first discovered in October 1922. Virtually all traces of Nefertiti and her husband were erased after his unsuccessful attempt to supplant polytheism with the worship of the Sun god Aten - one of the earliest known practices of monotheism.
Nefertiti, whose limestone bust is in the Berlin Museum, had an unusually high status during her husband’s reign. Like her husband, Nefertiti’s name was erased from historical records and her likenesses were defaced after her death.
The mummy was first discovered in 1898 and ignored. Dr Fletcher was drawn to the tomb again during an expedition in June 2002, after she had identified a Nubian-style wig worn by royal women during Akhenaten’s reign.
SCA bans Briton in Nefertiti dispute
The world of Egyptology burst into controversy on 20th August when one of Britian’s most prominent archaeologists was banned by the Egyptian government from continuing her work. Egypt says that Dr Joann Fletcher, of York University, has "cheated the world" by publishing inaccurate information about Nefertiti.
British Egyptologists attribute the ban to professional jealousy, politics and attempts by Egypt to exact revenge for the Iraq war. Dr Fletcher, the field director of York University’s "Mummy Research Project", claimed to have found the mummy of Nefertiti, Ancient Egypt’s most famous queen. The disappearance of the mummy had been one of the enduring mysteries of Egyptology. A programme featuring the reconstructed face of the queen appeared on American television on Sunday the 17th August, and articles appeared in newspapers around the world.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities, which controls research in the country, banned the project from any further work in the country, claiming that Dr Fletcher had "published inaccurate information about Queen Nefertiti without consulting the council".
Dr Zahi Hawass, the council’s Secretary-General, said that Dr Fletcher "had cheated the whole world by publishing a photo, broadcast on the US television channel Discovery, that was supposed to represent Queen Nefertiti but which is far from reality". He said: "It has been proven that the mummy that Dr Fletcher has attributed to Nefertiti is that of a man, even according to her professor".
Dr Fletcher was unavailable for comment. But another British Egyptologist, who wanted anonymity, said: "They are using any excuse to delay or ban any British or American project because of Israel and the Iraq war".
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