CAIRO: Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAA) foiled an unprecedented attempt to loot an archaeological site where the would-be thieves dove into the Nile River and began to dig a tunnel underneath the adjacent site of Houd Zelikha, south of Giza, TAA investigation department head Maj. Gen. Osama el-Nawawy told The Cairo Post Saturday.
Preliminary investigations by TAA policemen revealed that armed gangs had conducted several illegal excavations in the Houd Zelikha archaeological site in the town of Al-Badrashin, 40 km south of the Giza pyramids, Nawawy said.
They planned to reach the foundation of the archaeological site through an underwater tunnel that they started to dig, he added. Read more.
Archaeologists working at the ancient port of Berenike on the Red Sea coast of Egypt have started to uncover an ancient Roman era ship’s hull and an extensive burial ground for animals. They have also started to pinpoint some of the major buildings of the port through geophysical work.
Berenike was founded in the 3rd century BC by Pharaoh Ptolemy II (285-246 years BC). Initially, the port was used for shipments of African elephants. The ruler had decided to use these animals in battles against Egypt’s enemies, as access to the Indian elephant was cut off, so an independent source from Eastern Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia was needed. The city was also a refuge and place of temporary residence for seafarers, traders and the general public from the remotest corners of the world. Read more.
The rulers of ancient Egypt lived in glorious opulence, decorating themselves with gold and perfumes and taking their treasures with them to the grave.
New research reveals how such a hierarchical, despotic system could arise from egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. The reasons were part technological and part geographical: In a world where agriculture was ascendant and the desert all-encompassing, the cost of getting out from under the thumb of the pharaoh would have been too high.
"There was basically nowhere else to go," said study author Simon Powers, a postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolution at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. "That cost of leaving could basically lock individuals into despotism." Read more.
CAIRO — Tucked in a corner of the Egyptian Museum, a gilded statue of King Tutankhamen is badly broken, its arm detached and a mound of gold flakes chipped off its torso.
At least the statue — one of thousands of objects looted from museums and archaeological sites during more than three years of political unrest — made it back here.
Antiquities thefts spiked in the wake of the revolt in 2011 that ousted Hosni Mubarak and led to a security breakdown. Thieves robbed museums and archaeological sites, at times bulldozing land and bombing structures on top with dynamite, said Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna.
"They go and completely destroy the sites in search of treasures," she said, adding damage was fast, mechanical and done by people trying to get rich quickly. Read more.
Egypt on Wednesday received from Germany a painted limestone relief that was stolen in the last century from the tomb of 18th dynasty high priest Sobekhotep in the Nobles necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.
Minister of Antiquities and Heritage Mamdouh El-Damati told Ahram Online that the recovery of the relief started a few months ago when he was Egypt’s cultural attaché in Germany and curators at Bonn University Museum were working hard to organise a temporary exhibition there.
During preparations, a curator at the museum spotted the relief and it was confirmed that it was stolen and had been taken from the 18th dynasty tomb of Sobekhotep, a high priest during the reign of King Tuthmose IV. Read more.
Two shipments of stolen Egyptian artefacts spanning the eras of the pharaohs and the Mamluks have been returned to Egypt, thanks to efforts from diplomatic officials.
The first consists of eight Islamic wooden art decorations stolen in 2008 from the pulpit of Ghanim Al-Bahlawan Mosque in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar in Cairo’s historic Islamic district.
Ghanim Al-Bahlawan Mosque, named after the Circassian Mamluk, was constructed in 1478 AD during the reign of Sultan Qait Bey. The decorative items depict geometrical patterns embellished with ivory. Read more.
At the Arabet Abydos area in Sohag, where the large temple of King Seti I is located, an Egyptian excavation mission from the Ministry of Antiquities and Heritage (MAH) stumbled upon a limestone ancient Egyptian chapel from the 11th Dynasty.
The excavation work came within the framework of a cleaning programme carried out by the MAH in that area, after officers of the tourism and antiquities police caught red handed inhabitants trying to illegally excavate the area in front their residences in search of treasured artefacts.
Ali El-Asfar, head of the ancient Egyptian Section at the MAH, told Ahram Online that the chapel is in a very well preserved condition and is located 150 metres north to the temple of King Seti I. Read more.
One of the eight mummies that are the subject of the exhibition Ancient lives, new discoveries, the mummy of a woman from Sudan, was discovered relatively recently, compared to the others. Her body was found in 2005, during rescue excavations taking place in the area of the Fourth Nile Cataract, where the building of a dam threatened to flood archaeological sites.
The collection of over a thousand human remains excavated during the mission was donated by the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (Sudan) to the Sudan Archaeological Research Society, which then gave them to the British Museum. Arid climate and hot sand had naturally mummified some of these bodies, including the remains of this woman. Her soft tissues are so well preserved that conservators at the British Museum located a tattoo and other marks on her skin. Read more.