Just to show that no matter how much time you spend in Egypt, you will always see something new. These coins are from 2005. In all my travels, I’ve never come across a LE 1 coin before (top), with that distinctive style, featuring the  mask of Tutankhamun. I would remember if I had done so! I have seen the 50 Piastre coin, with a profile portrait of Cleopatra VII only once or twice.

In Egypt, you rarely come across coins. Notes run right down to 25 Piastre, which is usually the smallest amount a foreigner is going to handle, being the price for a bus ride in most towns until recently (on my last visit the fare had gone up in some areas). So, to see that the Egypt mint has taken the trouble of producing a LE 1 coin is quite a surprise, though a welcome one. Why they don’t produce more of both coins and withdraw the huge piles of dog eared 25-50 piastre, and LE 1 notes from circulation, and replace them all with these beautiful bits of metal is anyone’s guess.

Lovely work, on part of the coin designers.

It is a general belief that the Ancient Egyptians had no coins. Throughout the vast majority of Egyptian history that is absolutely right. Instead a system of weights of metal were used to determine values – the deben (Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom), and the deben-qedet systems (New Kingdom and Late Period). However, from the 26th Dynasty onward, Egypt hired large numbers of Greek mercenaries. Initially these mercenaries were paid as the Egyptians had traditionally rewarded their soldiers, by giving them fields. The problems with this solution however, are quite clear. Eventually, this situation gave rise to something relatively few people are actually aware of… Pharaonic coins.

This is not Ptolemaic, whose coins are quite widely known, or from the Persian occupation periods when Persians satraps did produce their own coins. Below, however is an actual pharaonic coin, minted in the 30th Dynasty reign of Nectanebo II, and is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The hieroglyphs on the side shown above read nb nfr, “Good gold”, a reassurance, or perhaps a guarantee, that the gold is pure.  The coin itself is something of an interesting hybrid, with it’s inscription in hieroglyphs and then a decidedly Greek looking horse. Some other coins also existed that had demotic rather than hieroglyphic inscriptions, but all retain their quasi-greek flavour, since it is most likely they were introduced with the specific intent of paying hired Greek mercenaries. Few coins have been found, and they seem to have had little impact on the populace as a whole.

A slower paced day, after the last few weeks of hopes and tears. Just a scene from day to day life at my desk, busy being a good little Scribe of Thoth…

One tool I have found invaluable throughout my study of Egyptian language has been Paul Dickson’s excellent Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. This dictionary, made freely available in PDF format has the advantage of being able to searched by the “Find” features of the Adobe Acrobat reader. It might not sound much, but to the frustrated student it might as well be a gift from Thoth Himself!

With my last laptop stolen not long ago, I stupidly had not kept a backup copy of the file, and found that the old links to the file online were now dead. After much nashing of teeth I finally managed to get hold of a copy of Scribd, which has to the the most use unfriendly website I have ever come accross, and wound up being so hard to access under the “upload your own file” scheme, I forked out for a subscription just to get this (open source, freely distributed) file.

So, to save my readers the frustration, behold!


Middle Egyptian Dictionary by Paul Dickson

(PDF file, 18.3mb)

 

I am redistributing this work in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike 2.5 License. I recognise Paul Dickson as the creator of this work. Click here to view a copy of this license, or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, United States.

Summary of sites affected across Egypt – either confirmed or strongly suspected. Data pooled from Egyptopaedia and others.

Alexandria Area (All confirmed by ZH/SCA 5th Feb):

  • Anfushi Necropolis – SAFE
  • Alexandria National Museum – Rumour of fire incorrect. SAFE
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina – SAFE
  • Buto (Desouk) – Attempted break-in to magazine unsuccessful. Two thieves caught.
  • Chatby Necropolis – SAFE
  • Greco-Roman Museum – SAFE
  • Kom el-Dikka (Amphitheatre) – SAFE
  • Kom El-Shuqafa – SAFE
  • Marine Museum – SAFE
  • Mosaic Museum – SAFE
  • Pompey’s Pillar – SAFE

Delta Region

  • Qantara Museum (Nr. Ismailia) – Magazine looted. 288 objects recovered (4th Feb.), and 5 more (8th Feb.)
  • Sa el-Hagar – SAFE
  • Tell Basta – Attempted looting. Military arrested thieves. Reported 18th Feb by ZH.
  • Tell el Dab’a – SAFE

Cairo

  • See earlier report on Cairo Museum thefts.
  • See the Eloquent Peasant for a continuously updated record of artefacts confirmed lost/found/damaged. Photographic record of items is being compiled. LINK
  • Cairo University magazine entered. No further details available at present. (ZH 17th Feb) LINK

Pyramid Fields

  • Tomb of Hetep-Ka at Saqqara entered. False door looted. (ZH 17th Feb) LINK
  • Saqqara magazine (Nr. Teti pyramid) entered. No further details at present. Other magazines at Saqqara affected(?) (ZH 17th Feb) LINK
  • Tomb of Rahotep at Abusir entered. Fragment of false door looted. (ZH 17th Feb) LINK
  • Dashur (DeMorgan magazine, German mission) – Looted. Date of looting uncertain, perhaps multiple times.  Eight amulets confirmed missing. (14th Feb. Al Ahram – LINK)
  • Tomb of Maya – SAFE (9th Feb ZH)
  • Giza – SAFE (various sources)

Memphis

  • Conflicting information. Blue Shield inspection (Austrian mission) reports nothing stolen, but could not locate magazine facility. Dr. Wafaa el Saddik reports magazine has been looted. ICOM suggests looting may have actually been vandalism, and lost in translation.

Faiyum

  • Lahun – Signs of illicit digging. (Lahun Survey Project, 3rd Feb)  LINK
  • Karanis – Magazine attempted break-in unsuccessful. Now safe. (Lahun Survey Project, 3rd Feb) LINK
  • Lisht – Unsuccessful attempt to rob tomb. (ZH 17th Feb) LINK

Middle Egypt

  • Abydos – Unconfirmed report of widespread illicit digging and looting of storerooms amidst lack of security presence. (Egyptian Dreams, 13th Feb) – LINK. However ZH (2nd Feb) reported as safe.
  • Akhmin – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Beni Hasan – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Dendera – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • El Hibeh – Looted. Now secure. (ICOM) – LINK

Upper Egypt

  • Karnak – Attempted entry by looters on 28th Jan. Repulsed by locals. (Egyptopaedia, 4th Feb) – LINK
  • Luxor Temple – SAFE (Chicago House, 8th Feb) LINK
  • West Bank Sites – SAFE (Chicago House, 8th Feb) LINK
  • Kom Ombo – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb)
  • Edfu – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Philae – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Elephantine – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Nubian Museum – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Kalabsha – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK
  • Aswan Nobles Tombs – SAFE (ZH, 2nd Feb) LINK

Outer Regions

  • Kharga Museum – Unconfirmed report of looting. (Louay Mahmoud Saied, 9th Feb)
  • Berenice – SAFE (Egyptology Blog, 3rd Feb) LINK

 

For more information please check the Egyptopaedia Looting Database and the ICOM Report on Egypt’s Museums

From the blog of Zahi Hawass: http://www.drhawass.com/blog/further-updates-state-egyptian-antiquities

I am very sad to announce that several important antiquities sites have been vandalized. After a preliminary inventory had been taken, Dr. Sabri Abdel Aziz, Head of the Pharaonic Sector of the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs, reported to me the following incidents: At Saqqara, the tomb of Hetepka was broken into, and the false door may have been stolen along with objects stored in the tomb. I have arranged for a committee to visit the tomb this coming Saturday to compare the alleged damage with earlier expedition photos. In Abusir, a portion of the false door was stolen from the tomb of Rahotep. In addition, break-ins have been confirmed at a number of storage magazines: these include ones in Saqqara, including one near the pyramid of Teti, and the magazine of Cairo University. I have created a committee to prepare reports to determine what, if anything, is missing from these magazines. The Egyptian Military caught and released thieves attempting to loot the site of Tell el Basta; the military also caught criminals trying to loot a tomb in Lisht. There have also been many reports of attacks on archaeological sites through the building of houses and illegal digging. I have asked the sector heads in the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs to prepare full reports for each site under their jurisdiction.

Apologies for the delay, I know this already out there. Personal circumstances have intervened, but I feel it is important this information is re-broadcast as widely as possible.

Along with the damaged items at the museum, a list of items known to be missing has now been made available from the SCA. More items may also be unaccounted for, but these are confirmed:

1. Gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess
2. Gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun harpooning. Only the torso and upper limbs of the king
are missing
3. Limestone statue of Akhenaten holding an offering table
4. Statue of Nefertiti making offerings
5. Sandstone head of an Amarna princess
6. Stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna
7. Wooden shabti statuettes from Yuya (11 pieces)
8. Heart Scarab of Yuya

NOTE: Since the press release was issued, the Heart Scarab of Yuya , wooden fragments belonging to the damaged New Kingdom coffin, one of the eleven missing shabtis of Yuya and Thuya , and fragments belonging to the statue of Tutankhamun being carried by the goddess Menkaret have been recovered. These were found scattered across the museum grounds, or within the building itself. Furthermore, the statue of Akhenaten offering was found in one of the museum trash cans, though the offering table (detached) is still unaccounted for.

Source: SCA Press Release 12/feb/2011 – Link to PDF file

Updates: Zahi Hawass personal blog – http://www.drhawass.com/blog/update-current-state-antiquities – and other sources.

German publication Die Zeit has an interview with former director of the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, Dr. Wafaa el-Saddik. The interview is in German and can be seen here. A digital translation (revised slightly by yours truly) of the interview itself is given below. She believes strongly that the attempted robbery was an inside job, executed by former security staff posted at the museum.

Question: Looters attacked the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Friday evening. What exactly happened?

WS: The situation is still very unclear. There are many pieces on the floor that were thrown and destroyed, including statues of gods from the treasure of Tutankhamun. A total of 13 display cases were smashed. We now know that the looters have not stolen any Pharaonic objects. The new extension with the big souvenir shop(1), which was opened in November, was totally robbed.

Question: Who were the perpetrators?

WS: They were the guardians of the museum. Some were policemen with their jackets pulled up, so as not to be identified as policemen.(2) A second group of offenders then entered through a fire escape and the skylight. The destruction is all on the first floor, where there is also the treasure of Tutankhamun.

Question: Are there other museums in Egypt affected?

WS: The magazines of the Museum in Memphis were completely robbed on Saturday. The leaders there have called me in desperation and begged: “Save us, do something.” I first called the police, but got no response. I’ve alerted an Army General I know, but it was too late. I was on the phone with the museums in Luxor and Aswan, and there is nothing happening there. The biggest problem is the lack of protection for our museums. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo and all museums in Egypt are not insured. I have asked for  many years for this to be done – without success.

Question: In Cairo, the protesters have protected the Egyptian Museum immediately with a human chain?

WS: When people in Tahrir Square noticed what was going on, they protected the entire site immediately. The perpetrators, however, were inside the building. The protesters were able to arrest some, but others have escaped. Fortunately, the military arrived quickly, as they were already deployed on Friday evening in Tahrir Square. Since then the museum is well protected.

Question: Is  the danger from the fire in the adjacent building (the headquarters of Mubarak’s ruling party) averted?

WS: Yes, fortunately, the danger is over. The skyscraper had been burning for nearly two days, and with gusts of wind,  it could have easily spread to the Egyptian Museum.

Question: Why would their own security guards commit such barbarism?

WS: They are paid very poorly. I wrote my fingers crooked asking for more money for these people, all for free. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who are basically conscripts in police uniforms. These policemen earn even less. Again and again, these young fathers came to me. They have nothing. One sold everything he had at home,  to get medicine for his sick child. Others are hungry, even at home. But the Egyptian ministry of culture celebrates itself with expensive projects and receptions.

Notes:

1 This is referring to the new shop and ticket office, which was robbed. ZH referred to it only as the ticket office.

2 Complex sentence not translated well by the computer. I have tried to break it down into blocks here so it makes better sense. However I am not familiar with the language and cannot guarantee accuracy. Refer to the original interview to see the german text.

Kunstraub in Ägypten “Das waren unsere eigenen Leute” Art theft in Egypt “Those were our own people”

Das Ägyptische Museum in Kairo wurde geplündert – von den eigenen Wachleuten. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has been looted – by his own guards. Das liegt auch an den geringen Löhnen, sagt die ehemalige Museumsdirektorin Wafaa el-Saddik. This is partly because of low wages, says the former museum director Wafaa el-Saddik.

Panzer vor dem Ägyptischen Museum in Kairo am 29. Januar. Daneben brennt das Hauptgebäude der herrschenden Nationaldemokratischen Partei (NDP) von Präsident Mubarak.

Panzer vor dem Ägyptischen Museum in Kairo am 29. Tank outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on 29 Januar. January. Daneben brennt das Hauptgebäude der herrschenden Nationaldemokratischen Partei (NDP) von Präsident Mubarak. In addition, burning the main building of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Mubarak.

Frage: Plünderer haben am Freitagabend das Ägyptische Museum in Kairo angegriffen. Question: looter on Friday evening the Egyptian Museum in Cairo attack. Was genau ist passiert? What exactly happened?

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Wafaa el-Saddik: Die Lage ist noch sehr unübersichtlich. Wafaa el-Saddik: The situation is still very unclear. Es sind sehr viele Figuren auf den Boden geworfen und zerstört worden, darunter auch Götterfiguren aus dem Schatz des Tutanchamun. There are many pieces on the floor was thrown and destroyed, including statues of gods from the treasure of Tutankhamun. Insgesamt wurden 13 Vitrinen zertrümmert. A total of 13 display cases were smashed. Inzwischen wissen wir, dass die Plünderer keine pharaonischen Schmuckstücke gestohlen haben. We now know that the looters have not stolen pharaonic trinkets. Der neue Anbau aber mit dem großen Andenkengeschäft, was erst im November eröffnet worden ist, wurde total ausgeraubt. The new extension but with the big souvenir shop, which was opened in November, was totally robbed.

Frage: Wer waren die Täter? Question: Who were the perpetrators?

Wafaa el-Saddik Wafaa el-Saddik

Wafaa el-Saddik

Wafaa el-Saddik (60) war von 2004 bis Ende 2010 Direktorin des Ägyptischen Museums in Kairo. Wafaa el-Saddik (60) was from 2004 to the end of 2010 Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Dort lagert eine der berühmtesten Antikensammlungen der Welt. There, one of the most famous collections of antiquities stored in the world. Ihren Doktor in Archäologie hat sie in Wien gemacht. Her doctorate in archeology, it has made in Vienna. Bevor sie den Chefposten in Kairo annahm, lebte sie 15 Jahre lang in Köln. Before she accepted the top job in Cairo, she lived 15 years in Cologne.

El-Saddik: Das waren die Wächter des Museum. El-Saddik: Those were the guardians of the museum. Einige von den Polizisten haben offenbar vorher ihre Jacken ausgezogen, um nicht als Polizisten erkennbar zu sein. Some have apparently by the police before their coats pulled out not to be recognizable as policemen. Eine zweite Gruppe der Täter ist dann von hinten über eine Feuerleiter durch die Dachfenster eingestiegen. A second group of offenders is then entered from the back of a fire escape through the skylight. Die Zerstörungen sind alle im ersten Stockwerk, wo sich auch der Schatz des Tutanchamun befindet. The demolitions are all on the first floor, where there is also the treasure of Tutankhamun.

Frage: Sind noch andere Museen in Ägypten betroffen? Question: Are there other museums in Egypt affected?

El-Saddik: Das Museum in Memphis und seine Magazine wurden am Samstag früh komplett ausgeraubt. El-Saddik: The Museum in Memphis, and his magazines have been completely robbed on Saturday morning. Die Verantwortlichen dort haben mich in ihrer Verzweiflung angerufen und gefleht: “Rette uns, mach etwas.” The leaders there have called me in desperation and prayed: “Save us, do something.” Ich habe zunächst die Polizei angerufen, aber die hat nicht reagiert. I first called the police, but did not respond. Dann habe ich einen Armeegeneral alarmiert, den ich kenne. I’ve alerted an Army General, I know. Aber es war bereits zu spät. But it was too late. Mit den Museen in Luxor und Assuan habe ich telefoniert, dort ist nichts passiert. With the museums in Luxor and Aswan I was on the phone, there is nothing happening. Das größte Problem ist der mangelhafte Schutz unserer Museen überhaupt. The biggest problem is the lack of protection of our museums at all. Das Ägyptische Museum in Kairo und alle Museen in Ägypten sind überhaupt nicht versichert. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo and all museums in Egypt are not insured. Ich habe viele Jahre lang verlangt, dass das geschieht – ohne jeden Erfolg. I have asked for many years that this happens – without any success.

Frage: In Kairo haben die Demonstranten das Ägyptische Museum dann sofort mit einer Menschenkette geschützt? Question: In Cairo, the Egyptian Museum protesters immediately with a human chain to protect?

El-Saddik: Als die Menschen auf dem Tahrir-Platz gemerkt haben, was vorgeht, haben sie das gesamte Gelände sofort umgestellt. El-Saddik: People on the Tahrir Square have noticed that as what is going on, they immediately converted the entire site. Die Täter aber waren im Inneren des Gebäudes. The perpetrators, however, were inside the building. Die Demonstranten haben einige festnehmen können, andere sind entkommen. The protesters were able to arrest some, others have escaped. Zum Glück war dann schnell das Militär zur Stelle, das am Freitagabend bereits auf dem Tahrir-Platz aufmarschiert war. Fortunately, the military was then quickly on the spot, which was deployed on Friday evening already on Tahrir Square. Seitdem wird das Museum gut geschützt. Since then the museum is well protected.

Frage: Ist die Gefahr durch das Feuer in dem Gebäude der benachbarten Zentrale von Mubaraks Regierungspartei gebannt? Question: Is the risk of fire in the building adjacent to the headquarters of Mubarak’s ruling party, the banned?

El-Saddik: Ja, die Gefahr ist zum Glück gebannt. El-Saddik: Yes, the danger is averted for happiness. Das Hochhaus brennt seit fast zwei Tagen, durch Windböen hätte das Feuer leicht auf das Ägyptische Museum übergreifen können. The skyscraper has been burning for nearly two days, with wind gusts had the fire can easily spread to the Egyptian Museum.

Frage: Warum begehen die eigenen Wachleute eine solche Barbarei? Question: Why commit their own security guards such barbarism?

El-Saddik: Sie werden extrem schlecht bezahlt. El-Saddik: They are extremely poorly paid. Ich habe mir die Finger krumm geschrieben und mehr Geld für diese Menschen verlangt. I wrote the fingers crooked and asking for more money for these people. Alles umsonst. All for free. Ein Wachmann verdient etwa 250 ägyptische Pfund, das sind 35 Euro im Monat. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. Wir haben rund 160 Wachleute plus mehrere Dutzend Polizisten, die im Grunde Wehrpflichtige in Polizeiuniformen sind. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who are basically conscripts in police uniforms. Diese Polizisten verdienen noch weniger. These policemen earn even less. Immer wieder waren diese jungen Väter bei mir. Again and again, these young fathers to me. Sie haben nichts. You have nothing. Einer hat alles, was er zuhause hatte, verkauft, um Medizin für sein krankes Kind besorgen zu können. One has everything he had at home, sold, to get medicine for his sick child. Andere hungern sogar daheim. Other hungry even at home. Aber das ägyptische Kulturministerium – das feiert sich mit teuren Projekten und Empfängen. But the Egyptian ministry of culture – that celebrates itself with expensive projects and receptions.

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