AP has carried an article with some updates on the overall situation about damage to sites in Egypt since the revolution started.

The el-Hiba Facebook group now contains the images from Carol Redmount's talk about looting there which she gave at ARCE this year.
The death was announced on Saturday of the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III. He was 88, and had been pope since 1971. Huge crowds have gathered in Cairo to mourn his passing.
Over the last week or so, disturbing news has surfaced about damage being done to sites in Egypt by looters. The catalyst has been damage to a site at el-Hibeh being worked on by Dr Carol Redmount from UC Berkeley. Dr Redmount has kindly permitted me to quote in full an email she sent me describing the situation, which is below.
She has also set up a Facebook group entitled Save el-Hibeh Egypt (http://www.facebook.com/groups/337119989673652/).

There is a very good (or depressing) article in Le Monde on looting:

Here is Dr Redmount's email:

[The newspaper article to which Dr Redmount  refers is now at http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/er/newsdir/ElHibeh-Wafd-Article.pdf  The file is 5.5mb]

I got to Cairo and signed our contract with the Antiquities people as usual (and I had refused to buy plane tickets until I had heard our security clearances were actually through). The day before we were supposed to start work local security yanked our clearances. It seems there is a local "gangster" from the village south of the site with a "gang" who is ruthlessly looting and destroying the tell. I knew it had been looted after the revolution, when so much destruction occurred everywhere, and that sporadic additional looting had occurred, but the scale of the current destruction is horrific. This "criminal", as he is also referred to, has even threatened the local Antiquities inspectors. Evidently our local inspectorate has tried to get the pillaging stopped, but to no avail. No one is listening and security is unwilling or unable to do anything about the situation. So the net result has been that we have been unable to work so far and the tell continues to be destroyed.

It is deemed too dangerous for us to go to the site. We were trying to arrange to have our study materials moved to the SCA storehouse at Ahnasy el-Medinah so we could study it there (a royal pain, but better than nothing), but security is now refusing to let us set foot at all on the east bank of the tell, so we can't even get access to our storeroom to select the materials to study. (We've already driven past the site more than once because it is on the fastest route back to Cairo; last time we traveled we saw about ten men openly looting in broad daylight. Previously we were told they carried out their work at night.)

So, in desperation, when the local non-profit international high school in Cairo with which we are working to set up an outreach program was contacted by the media, I blabbed. The results you have below.

As all other approaches had failed (I'd been trying to get an appointment with the minister, without success), there was no other option. If something isn't done soon there will be little left of the site, and I'm not about to stand by and let it get destroyed without at least doing my best to get the looting stopped. We're also trying to get into the international media (preferably via the Egyptian mogul, to keep it local) to keep up the pressure and embarrass people enough to do something about the looting, rather than just sweeping it under the rug again.

Interestingly enough, a few hours after the media broadcast, Abdel Maqsoud and another SCA official were on a different t.v. channel presenting, in great detail, a list of all the storehouses and contents that had been looted, from the Delta down to Aswan. And once the newspaper was out I magically got an appointment with the new Minister of Antiquities, who probably isn't very happy with me. I was also advised by the media mogul, seconded by other Egyptians present (in my group, not his) that the best way to protect yourself in Egypt was to go completely, rather than half public. Hence our names and affiliations in the article.

And now that we've poked the hornet's nest, we're waiting to see how badly we're going to get stung. So far we haven't been deported. Wish I knew if that was actually a joke. People are referring to the situation here as the Fourth Intermediate Period, and it's a pretty good description.

Melanie Pitkin, who works at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and is a PhD student in Macquarie University, has kindly written for me some notes with pictures about her recent visit to Egypt. The pictures are of the Tahrir Square area, so have modern relevance. See the story soon (I will make this link live shortly) at the following address:
Bruce Williams has asked me to post this.

New Dams on the Nile and Atbara and their effects on human rights, environment, and heritage.

The last dam built on the Nile, at the Fourth Cataract, was completed in 2008, displacing more than 60,000 people and flooding 170 kilometers of the river valley and adjacent land.  The entire non-desert habitat was lost along with a human heritage that included vast numbers of archaeological sites.  This followed on the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960's that displaced 150,000, with even greater damage to the environment and heritage.

Now, eight or more dams are planned and two are under contract, at Kajbar at the Third Cataract and Shereik at the Fifth.  The region of Mahas in the Third Cataract is especially populated, with a long and rich history is now directly threatened with destruction.  The area upstream of Shereik is less populated, but very poorly known.  It is a crisis that will be discussed at a brief conference at the British Museum on May 15, 2012.

This forum is intended to disseminate news and ideas about the dams crises in Sudan and Egypt, past and present, to help develop means to mitigate and possibly even avert some of the worst consequences.

To subscribe, go to: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/sudandamscrisis

Yesterday was of course the anniversary of the first gatherings which led to the departure of Mubarak and the Egyptian 2011 Revolution. As I have said many times before, I wish Egypt well and hope the Egyptians get the government they want.
The Army Council has announced partial lifting of the emergency law put in in 1981. "Thuggery" is still excluded. Presumably the announcement the day before the anniversary of the beginning of the revolution is no chance.
I note that Zahi Hawass has posted news of what he has been doing on his web site. This is his first post on this subject since August
The International Association of Egyptologists has announced that the next IAE will take place in 2013. I quote from their web site:
"The next Congress will be held at the Calligraphy Center in Alexandria, under the direction of Ahmed Mansour, Deputy Director of the Center. The schedule has been set preliminarily for Friday, September 13, to Friday, September 20. All announcements, news, and details regarding the Congress will be posted on this website as we receive them. In addition, the Calligraphy Center is preparing its own website devoted to the Congress."

For more information, see http://www.iae-egyptology.org/
Valley of the Kings
A pit has been found by the Basel expedition in the Valley of the Kings near the tomb of Thutmose III. It contains a burial of the Third Intermediate Period which sounds to be in good shape. It is worth pointing out that this is not the first time that material of this date has been found in the VK, although it is not that common (see 'Aspects of the History of the Valley of the Kings in the Third Intermediate Period' by John H. Taylor in the After Tutankhamun volume edited by Nick Reeves).


I have just learned that back in October it was announced that the French Institute had been studying some Old Kingdom papyri possibly located by Lauer in the 1930s. Coming from the area around the pyramid of Unas and dating to the reign of Teti, they appear to deal with matters relating to the movement of stones etc for the pyramids. Sounds fascinating and I'd love to know more.