Some people turn boredom into naps. Kathleen Martinez Berry creates entire careers out of idle moments.
Up at night with an infant and temporarily living in Madrid while her husband studied cardiology, Martinez cast about for something challenging to occupy her time; she decided to get a master’s degree in finance.
Bored again while tending to her second child, Martinez then earned a master’s in archeology, a subject that had been a longtime passion. That rekindled what has become a full-blown obsession: discovering the truth about the life and especially the death of Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, at one time the richest and most powerful woman in the world.
Her quest has transported Martinez from a high-powered career as one of the Dominican Republic’s most sought-after criminal attorneys, into a self-made Egyptologist poised at the brink of solving one of archeology’s most enduring mysteries — the whereabouts of Cleopatra’s tomb. Read more.
On Monday of last week the Israeli Antiquities Authority conducted an unusual memorial service, to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of the British archaeologist and Egyptologist Flinders Petrie. Only one of the people who attended the ceremony at the Protestant Cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, Israeli archaeologist Shimon Gibson, had ever met the deceased - or at least his head. In 1989, while Gibson was working at the Palestine Exploration Fund in London, he was contacted by the Royal College of Surgeons. “They asked me,” Gibson said at the ceremony, “to help identify a head preserved in a jar. They weren’t sure it belonged to Petrie,” Gibson related.
“I arrived armed with photographs of him,” Gibson said. “A laboratory technician brought me the head, took it out of the jar and put it on a plate in front of me. I was a bit embarrassed. I think [the technician] was a little strange because he asked me if I wanted to see the cut. We archaeologists love to see [such things] but not this type exactly. He showed it to me and opened Petrie’s eyes. They were bright blue.” Read more.
Dr Aidan Dodson, a senior research fellow in Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology made the discovery while undertaking a long-term project to catalogue every single Egyptian coffin in English and Welsh provincial museums.
Dr Dodson said: “When I walked into Torquay Museum for the first time I realised that the coffin was something really special. Not only was it of a design of which there is probably only one other example in the UK (in Bristol), but the quality was exceptional.
“Cut from a single log of cedar wood, it is exquisitely carved, inlaid and painted. For a child to have been given something like that, he must have had very important parents – perhaps even a king and queen. Unfortunately, the part of the inscription which named the boy and his parents is so badly damaged that we cannot be certain.
“The inscription had been re-worked at some point for a new owner – a 2,500 year old mummified boy, anonymous but given the name Psamtek by his current custodians, that came to Torquay Museum with the coffin when in was donated in the 1950s. ‘Psamtek’ is in fact nearly 1,000 years younger than the coffin itself.” Read more.
Sarah Parcak doesn’t mind if you compare her to Indiana Jones. After all, how many globetrotting superstar archaeologists are out there? But Parcak, 32, is more likely to be found hunkered down in her research facilities at the University of Alabama at Birmingham poring over data than exploring lost temples and ancient cities in Egypt. Though she does plenty of the latter, too.
Parcak, a 1997 graduate of Bangor High School, has made a name for herself as one of the world’s foremost Egyptologists, using infrared satellite imagery to discover thousands of new sites throughout Egypt. A BBC documentary on the work of Parcak and her team of scientists, “Egypt: What Lies Beneath,” will air at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, on the Discovery Channel. The film is narrated by Brendan Fraser and prominently features Parcak.
“People don’t see the hours and hours of research and writing grants and data processing that happens behind the scenes,” said Parcak. “I will say, though, that archaeology is one of those things that I think a lot of little kids dream about [pursuing] when they grow up. Read more.
PARIS (AFP) – French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, known for her books on art and history and for saving the Nubian temples from flooding caused by the Aswan Dam, has died at the age of 97, her editor Telemaque said Friday.
In a career spanning more than half-a-century, Desroches-Noblecourt also helped preserve the mummy of King Ramses II, which was threatened by fungus, and became the first French woman to lead an archaeological dig in 1938.
Born on November 17, 1913 in Paris, she was captivated by Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamon, and joined the Egyptian Antiquities department at the Louvre.
During World War II she joined the Resistance, and hid the Louvre’s Egyptian treasures in free areas of France.
Desroches-Noblecourt’s greatest accomplishment came in 1954 when the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to build a new dam with a capacity of 157 billion cubic metres, which would extend into Sudan.
The monuments of ancient Nubia would have been flooded if the new Aswan Dam project was implemented in its original form. Read more.
Thomas Hemer journeyed from Nevada to Leipzig, the city where he was born 88 years ago, to fight for the legacy of his grandfather, an Egyptologist of Jewish origin forced to leave Germany after the Nazis came to power.
In 1937, Georg Steindorff sold his collection of ancient artifacts to the department of Leipzig University that he led. Hemer, his grandson, wants to stop the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany from taking them from the university museum, after a Berlin court ruled on May 26 that the sale was conducted under duress and thus invalid.
The 16-year legal battle pitted Leipzig University and Hemer against the Claims Conference, which filed a claim for the collection after German unification in 1990. In a restitution case that confounds conventions, the Claims Conference is now legal owner of the antiquities, overriding the wishes of the heir. Hemer, who served as a witness, said he’s “astonished.” Read more.
Jordan has vowed to use all means at its disposal to recover a set of artefacts allegedly smuggled into Israel that it believes could constitute the most important Christian texts ever found.
A British team of archaeologists last week announced the discovery of a hoard of ancient texts that they claim could have been written by contemporaries of Christ and whose existence is hinted at in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Cast in lead and copper, the sealed texts, known as codices, have already become the subject of intrigue worthy of an Indiana Jones film. Stories of subterfuge abound, with at least one of the British archaeologists reportedly facing death threats for trying to rescue the artefacts from privateers intent on breaking them up to sell on the black market.
Other experts, meanwhile, have dismissed the codices as an elaborate hoax and the British team, led by David Elkington, an Egyptologist, and his wife Jennifer, as gullible hucksters. Read more.