This important email has come through from the Director of the Museum, about access to information for the next six months.

To whom it may concern,

Due to the current situation in Egypt, I regret to say that the Registration, Collections Management and Documentation Department (RCMDD) and the curatorial staff of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo will not be accepting any new requests for object information and images starting from 1 December, 2011 until 30 May, 2012. This is due to the huge backlog that was created following the events of January 28th, as well as the renovations that are currently happening in the Museum. Information on objects from our collection can still be obtained by accessing the intranet version of the Museum Database on the computers dedicated to scholars in the RCMDD office, located in the museum basement.  The department is open to scholars from 9:30 am until 2:00 pm, Sunday-Thursday.

Dr. Tarek El Awady
General Director,The Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Apparently the army has apologised for the deaths in the current protests. As Private Eye would say "so, that's allright then...". A new Prime Minister has apparently been appointed by the army:
Apparently at least one foreign archaeological mission has decided to pack up and go home. No news yet on the protection status of the monuments.
I'm sure all readers will be aware that things are tricky in Cairo. The military government has promised to hasten elections in the light of the protests, but we are also seeing some violence from the security services which is mostly different from February.

This comment from the BBC's correspondent is helpful (apologies if I am breaching copyright!):

"In the light of Tuesday's announcement from the government that next week's parliamentary elections are going ahead, and that presidential elections will be brought forward to next summer, the situation around the protesters is a little more complex. 
It's important to remember that the Muslim Brotherhood - which is probably the biggest opposition group in Egypt and certainly the best organised and the most influential - is not part of this protest. It wants the elections to go ahead, and lots of people in the square don't want elections. They say they would rather have the military government stand down first.
It's not February any more, when people were united in calling for the government to stand down. Different opposition groups have got different agendas now. Egypt is growing into an era where it has proper competitive party politics.
While Tahrir Square compels the eye, it's not representative of the whole of Egypt - probably not even the whole of Cairo."





Everyone will be watching what is going on in Egypt, where the protestors from early 2011 are out on the streets again protesting about the slow pace of change, and the army's apparent reluctance to relinquish power. There are many news stories, so here is just the BBC report:

The latest news is that the cabinet has offered to resign in face of the protests:

I and all those who care for Egypt wish the Egyptians well and hope they get something which balances their desires with their need for stability.
This news came via the EEF from Robert Reynolds:

"David Lorton of Baltimore, Maryland died on October 22, 2011. He has expressed the wish that there be no public ceremony and no messages or cards expressing condolences."

David's work will have been known to many as he translated many Egyptology books from French and German into English. Although most of you will probably not have known him personally, you are very likely to have some of his work in your library.


I was visiting the Dixon Art Gallery in Memphis today and as part of an exhibit I watched one of the earliest silent movies ever made about Egypt. It's called 'Le Monstre' by Georges Méliès, one of the first film producers to develop the use of special effects. The film was made in 1903; more information is on the Ancient Egypt Film site and also here.  

Also today discovered that copies of Shadi Abdel Salam's two films al-Mumiya and The Eloquent Peasant are both on Youtube. All the versions I found have no subtitles, but I know that el-Mumiya exists with subtitles (AKA 'The Night of the Counting of the Years'). Sample URLs:



Apparently the Great Pyramid was closed today amid rumours that 'unidentified groups would try to hold "Jewish" or "Masonic" rites on the site to take advantage of mysterious powers coming from the pyramid on the rare date'. Apparently nothing happened other than the closure. [Thanks to Helen Strudwick for the link.]
As part of some limited site updating to accompany the introduction of this page, I've checked the links on the Essential, Institutional and Museum pages, and have been amazed, but not surprised, by the number of changes. If colleagues could tell me about these changes I can keep things a little more error free!
The archaeological site of Abu Mena, an early Christian sanctuary south of Alexandria, might be added back to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, warned Mohamed Reda, head of the Engineering and Technical Unit for the Museums and Monuments in Delta and Sinai, at the Supreme Council of Antiquities. 

Lots of things are happening in Egypt, politically and in the SCA. Elections are being talked about this month, but it could be later. There is no doubt there is discontent from those who helped drive the old government out about the pace of change, the role of the army, and the presence of old regime figures in the government. There has also been an unwelcome increase in sectarian troubles, with a particularly unpleasant attack against Copts on 9 October, in which government involvement was claimed, and a general feeling that tensions are on the rise. Let us hope that a new government will be in place before long and they will try and defuse some of this.

In my last post, I left the SCA with a new leader in September, Mohamed Abdel Fattah. However, he resigned after only three weeks in office, claiming he had no powers to make any decisions. The government then appointed Mustafa Amin as his successor at the end of September, who is presently in office. But there is still an undercurrent of discontent within the SCA, and we hear of demonstrations and protests about promised changes not happening. Truly the pent-up frustration of the Mubarek years is coming out; the most recent example was the firing of Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the Supreme Committee of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM); he was removed from his post at the end of October following protests by employees.

No doubt the uncertainty is having an effect on tourism, which is down considerably (perhaps 42%) on usual, and of course we are now in the prime tourist season. It is more important that the country sorts itself out rather than worry about tourism, but then again tourism has been the number 1 currency earner for a number of years, and so people in areas dependent on tourism will be suffering. Rumours still come out of possible thefts. On the Egyptology fieldwork front, we hear that permissions for a number of foreign missions have now been granted, as the whole archaeological process has, unsurprisingly, been largely in limbo since February.