Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Year 2013 in Egyptology

           Dedicated to Sameh Ahmed Abdel Hafiz who this year
              lost his life in the storming of the Malawi Museum

January brought finds in the mortuary complex of Amenhotep II which were found late period burials. This news was better than the end of last year which saw the kings mummy in the Cairo museum have one of his toes fall off, don't you just hate when that happens!

Through out the spring discoveries were coming in at the excavations in the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, but it was in early February that colossal statues of the king were rediscovered with a view to re-erect them.

March started off with a sewage pipe bursting in the boat museum next to the great pyramid at Giza, no damage occurred to the boat but the message was clear that the boat would not last forever and that perhaps a reason for the second boat currently being restored to be resealed back in its pit for a distant future.

By the middle of April a port was discovered bearing stones with the IV Dynasty King Khufu's cartouches as well as a rare discovery of dozens of Old Kingdom papyrus' in nearby caves.

May brought an unfortunate act of graffiti at Luxor temple when a teenage tourist scratched his name into a relief much to the regret of his nation.

From July archaeologists working in northern Israel found the paws of a statue of a sphinx of the IV Dynasty Egyptian King Mycerinus. The sphinx, the only one known of for this king from the 27th century BC was probably brought to Israel a thousand years after its creation perhaps as plunder or diplomatic gift, the excavators are hoping the rest of the statue is nearby!

By July Egypt's elected President Morsi had granted himself unlimited powers to legislate above judicial review, with this a military council which included the defense minister, opposition leader and the new Coptic pope came to decision with the end result on July 3 President Morsi was arrested and removed from office.

The beginning of August brought continuing chaos and six stone fragments of ancient sculpture including a red granite fragment of a statue of a kings throne came to light. The artifacts were declared stolen when they were brought to Christie's auction house to be sold.

 The years great tragedy comes from the middle of August when the Malawi Museum was stormed by protesters who killed the ticket taker and stole just about everything in the museum including  a statuette of a daughter of Akhenaten the heretic Pharaoh. The statuette was recovered by police along with about 800 of the 1050 artifacts stolen are now back?

September contained perhaps this years biggest mystery when beautiful props of a fully prepared Egyptian mummy and its coffin were found in a German attic by a 10 year old boy. X-rays showed that the mummy has a skull and skeleton which appeared to be bedecked in a full set of jewels beneath its modern machine woven wrappings. Further investigation showed the skull was real while the skeleton was a plastic anatomy specimen.

As September ended The Search for Alexander was very well received but more exciting are the experts at the Cairo museum who announced that objects which had been damaged in the attack on the museum in 2011 were ready to be put back on display including this very wonderful statue which I can imagine crumbling in the robbers hand and which is an amazing triumph of the art of restoration. A great highlight for the year!

This years list contains the discovery of yet more repulsive statues of Ramses II, will it ever end? And if you were to judge the power of an ancient Egyptian god on the number of statues, Sekhmet would right up there and this year even more were discovered both in excavations and on the international art market.

Of the years posts must be mentioned last Decembers contributions  "Animal Tombs in the Valley of Kings" and "Jewels of the Pharaohs" have been the big runners of the year by more than two to one for every other article this year. More recent, the reviews "Eternal Egypt" and "Mummies: Life after Death in Ancient Egypt" are the runners.

I wish to thank my readers for their support in 2013 and look forward to the next exciting year in Egyptology,  particularly I wish 2014 to bring peace, prosperity for all, and for the tourists to come home to Egypt.



1) Al Ahram
2) Boat Museum photo: Berthold Werner
3) Old Kingdom Papyrus: Luxor times 
4) Fake Mummy Lutz-Wolfgang Kettler
5)  Tutankhamun statuette Luxor Times
6) Ramses II statue Al Ahram

No comments: