Beginning 25 January 2011, violent demonstrations, work strikes and massive rallies brokeout throughout Egypt protesting against the government’s dictatorship and political repression.
For the benefit of the general public and students who access this website for educational research here is a brief timeline of the 2011 events.
On 28 January, the Egyptian government severed the nation's internet access (which lasted about 10 days), in order to inhibit the protesters' ability to organize through the media. During the day, tens of thousands protested in the streets of Egypt's major cities against censorship and accusations of corruption within the government.
Due to the extreme nature of accusations against his government - and to appease the public - President Hosni Mubarak dismissed his cabinet and appointed a new cabinet with the country’s first-ever VP. But, this did not satisfy the protestors as they called for Mubarak’s immediate resignation.
With the country in a state of chaos, tourists, tour groups. contractors and non-Egyptians were advised to exit the country for their own safety. As a result, many archaeological missions and university affliated programs were closed down as anti and pro Mubarak protestors clashed.
In Luxor, where KV-63 is located, the city remained relatively calm except for the lack of internet and the increased presence of military personnel and armored vehicles. Contrary to other missions that closed due to the unrest, KV-63 remained open (and continued to do so until early March). The present staff and the few members brave enough to forge through the heightened travel restrictions carried out the season by drawing, photographing, mending pottery and performing conservation work.
As the events unfolded, the world watched in disbelief…. reports of looting was horrific but no news shocked the world more than hearing reports of the vandalism of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.
29 January, In Cairo, looters ransacked the Egyptian Museum smashing display cases and ripping heads off two mummies, vandalizing statues and stealing priceless antiquities such as a limestone statue of Akhenaten holding an offering table. Zahi Hawass, somewhat tardily reported the looting of the Egyptian Museum raising questions of whether he had withheld the information for political reasons.
Upon inspection, Zahi Hawass came out the museum and announced to the media that nothing had been robbed and that the thieves were caught and being detained. But this was sadly untrue…..
1 February, As the chaos escalated, the military closed the pyramids in Cairo to tourists, positioned armored personnel carriers and erected barriers outside archaeological sites and museums throughout Egypt, including Luxor and Aswan.
2 February, The situation in Tahrir Square (Cairo) got more violent with fires raging close to the museum and fire bombs being thrown at the crowd. A second attempt to raid the museum was made. Men in balaclavas shot at protestors and gunfire could be heard throughout the night. During the evening, Pro-Mubarak activists led a counter-protest that turned bloody. Many international journalists were threatened or injuried and one local journalist was killed.
3-4 February, Today Hawass offered conflicting reports of what was or what was not stolen from the Egyptian Museum and other archaeological sites. Now, there are conflicting reports of Hawass' resignation. The New York Times reported that Hawass had resigned in another government reshuffle. But then Egyptian sources claimed that Hawass had not resigned; instead he had only threatening to resign to protest the army's and police's failure to protect Egyptian archaeological sites.
10 February, Mubarak ceded all presidential power to VP Omar Suleiman, but announced that he would remain as President until the end of his term.
11 February, In Cairo, the hotbed of unrest, the revolution and demonstrations continued. Under massive pressure Mubarak finally agreed to resign as President and transferred power to the Armed Forces of Egypt. The military immediately promised to hold free, open elections within the next six months, or by the end of the year at the latest.
After Mubarak resigned, Hawass became a target for protesters, who demanded his removal as Minister of Antiquities. Like Mubarak, Hawass was besieged by allegations about his business interests, egocentric mindset, internal corruption inside the SCA in addition to his close ties with Mubarak. Other’s accused Hawass of turning Egypt's archaeology into a one-man show, shutting out foreign missions, forbidding archaeologists to announce their own findings and claiming other’s discoveries as his own. Criticism of Hawass increased following the report that he received an honorarium each year - of as much as $200,000 - from National Geographic to be an explorer-in-residence, which many viewed as a serious conflict of interest.
13 February, In an effort to save face, Hawass abruptly altered his story and announced that there were indeed eight pieces missing from the Cairo Museum. Today, Hawass made an exception and allowed the head of departments to enter the museum (as before this day Hawass had forbidden these supervisors to enter the museum from Jan. 29th - Feb 13th). The department’s heads discovered – not eight – but over 100 objects missing.
Later in the day, hundreds of unemployed archaeologists held a rally at the Ministry of Antiquities gates protesting the corruption and nepotism rife in the ministry. The tourism industry is a huge foreign cash cow for the country, protesters pointed out, but there was no public accounting of where all the money went.
2 March, Today Hawass updated the media with a long list of damaged and looted sites that in his opinion the authorities had been unable to keep secure. Below is a partial list (although many remained unreported) of break-ins, vandalism and looting of sites during the revolution.
Sinai - the magazine (warehouse) at Qantara East (over 300 objects stolen) and looting of various other sites including one with a front-end loader.
Saqqara - several tombs broken into and vandalized including the tomb of Hetep-Ka, the Mastaba Fara’un and several illegal excavations at night near the pyramids
Dahshur - the magazine of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s expedition
Abusir – the magazine of a Czech expedition, the tomb of Ptahshepses, and the tomb of Re-Hotep. Looters attempted to steal a statue of Ramesses II and there were several reports of illegal excavations.
Giza - the Selim Hassan magazine, the tomb of Impy and attempted to destroy other buildings and tombs
Sharm el-Sheikh - the magazines in Tell el-Basta and Wadi el-Feiran and the museum was reported looted (KV-63’s Gold Coffinette was reported safe)
Aswan - the Statue of Ramesses II
Abydos - looting, illegal excavations have damaged the site
Ismailia - illegal excavations and the tomb of Ken-Amun in Tell el-Maskhuta, was completely destroyed.
Edfu/Nekhen – looting
Alexandria - illegal excavations and looting
Behaira - illegal excavations and looting
Sharqia - illegal excavations and looting
3 March, Along with the previous day’s update on looted sites Hawass included the dire news of the looting of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s storage magazine at Dahshur. He reported it was attacked twice and that looters were able to overpower and tie up the guards.
Following the ‘looting update’ came the long awaited news of Hawass’s resignation as Minister of Antiquities. Hawass said his ministry was incapable of protecting Egypt’s ancient sites and museums, a complete flip-flop from his earlier statements downplaying the proposed looting.
4 March, the Egyptians again demonstrated in Tahri Square (Cairo). Protests continued through July 2011.
15 March, An official list was released by the SCA on their website of some of the stolen artifacts from the Egyptian Museum. The items included:
Gilded Wooden Figure of Tutankhamun on a Skiff, Throwing a Harpoon
Gilded Wood Statue of Tutankhamun Wearing the Red Crown
Gilded Wooden Statue of Menkaret Carrying a Mummified Tutankhamun
Gilded Wood Fanstock
Gilded Bronze Trumpet with Painted Wooden Core
Wooden Model Vase
Terracotta Plaque in the Form of a Bed
Bronze Seated Statue of Anubis
Bronze Seated Statue of Bastet
Bronze Striding Statue of the God Hapi
Bronze Top of a Scepter in the Shape of the Goddess Hat-Mehit
Bronze Striding Statue of Onuris
Bronze Seated Statue of Osiris
Schist Striding Statue of Neferhotep
Bronze Standing Statue of Osiris
Bronze Fish on a Stand
Limestone Statue of a Recumbent Bull
Bronze Standing Statue of Sobek in the form of a Crocodile-headed Man
Bronze Striding Statue of the Goddess Neith
Inscribed Bronze Seated Statue of a Cat (Bastet) Dedicated by Padiamen
Inscribed Bronze Striding Statue of Harpocrates Wearing the Andjety Diadem
Inscribed Bronze Sceptre of Ankhusiri
Bronze Statue of an Apis Bull Wearing the Sun Disk and Uraeus
Bronze False Beard
Bronze False Beard
Plastered Wooden Shabti of Tjuya Covered with Silver Leaf, Incised
Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Ten Lines of Inscription in Yellow
Painted and Gilded Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Seven Lines of Incised Inscription
Plastered and Gilded Wooden Shabti of Tjuya with Nine Lines of Incised Inscription
Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Eleven Lines of Inscription in Yellow
Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Nine Lines of Incised Inscription in Yellow
Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Nine Lines of Incised Inscription in Blue
Uninscribed Calcite Shabti of Yuya
Ebony Shabti of Yuya with Seven Lines of Inscription in Yellow
Painted Wooden Shabti of Yuya with Two Vertical Columns of Incised Blue Inscription
Unfinished Limestone Statue of Nefertiti as an Offering Bearer
Red Granite Striding Statue of an Amarna Princess
Quartzite Head of an Amarna Princess
Steatite Statue of Bes on a Calcite Base
Quartzite Statue of an Amarna Princess
Steatite Statue of a Scribe with Thoth as a Baboon on a Limestone Base
Painted Limestone Statue of a Seated Man
Bronze Statue of an Apis Bull with a Sun Disk Between its Horns
Striding Bronze Figure of Nakht
Painted Limestone Shabti of an Official
Faience Round Bead Bracelet
Gold, Stone and Faience Collar
Faience Bead Collar with Pendants in the Shape of Lily
String of 28 Coral Beads
String of Gold Beads and Figurines
Part of a Lapis Lazuli Girdle of Merytamun B
Necklace Composed of 44 Glass Beads Molded in Metal
10 Faience Amulets and a Faience Bead
Painted Limestone Standing Statue of a Young Woman Wearing a Large Wig
*Some items are not on this list, such as the small busts of Nefertiti and Yuya.
3 August, The long-awaited trial of Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president ousted by the uprising this year, began in Cairo today. Mubarak and his two sons are facing charges of murder and corruption.
On 2 October, an estimated two hundred employees of the Supreme Council
of the Antiquities (SCA) picketed the front entrance of the Cairo Egyptian
Museum demanding the fulfillment of promises made by the ‘new’ government.
9 October, More clashes in Cairo left 24 dead. The conflict raged between Christians, Muslims and Egyptian security forces. At least 24 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the worst sectarian violence since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February. The clashes spread to nearby Tahrir Square, drawing thousands of people to the plaza that served as the epicenter of the protests that ousted Mubarak. On Sunday night, they battled each other with rocks and firebombs, some tearing up pavement for ammunition and others collecting stones in boxes.
30 October, The trial of Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak on charges of complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters this year was adjourned until Dec. 28, 2011.
17 December, Amid more army crackdowns in Cairo, ten people were shot and Egypt's richest and oldest library/scientific institute (established by Napoleon) was set on fire by the locals today. State TV reported that the blaze engulfed the entire building of the historical Egyptian Scientific Institute damaging its collections containing more than 200,000 books dating back to the 1500’s, including the original volumes of the Description de l'Égypte, begun in 1798 by French savants during their travel throughout Egypt. (Webmaster Note: Like the rest of the world, I am deeply sadden to see the Egyptians destroying their national treasures ….. maybe, it is a good thing that many of Egypt’s treasures are housed in museums around the world ~ being kept safe and sound for future generations to appreciate)
Otto's Dig-less Diary
22 January 2011
On New Year’s Day 2011, I arrived in Cairo. Since it was a Saturday, the SCA offices were closed, but it did allow me time to contact some friends and colleagues and also pick up a few supplies and a train ticket to Luxor for Sunday evening.
Dr. Mohamed Ismail Khaled, Director of the SCA’s Foreign Missions Office had informed me earlier that our proposal had been approved, and we arranged a meeting for Sunday morning, January 2nd. All our papers and security were ready and some monument passes were requested. Also stopped by to give my regards to Dr. Zahi Hawass. That same afternoon, I then found the Marawan Chemist shop and bought some good acetone (18 litres) for the conservation and restoration work; we had a fairly good stock of virtually pure alcohol stored in KV-10, but acetone was sorely needed. By late that same evening, I was on the train to Luxor.
This was our third season that we have been residing at the small Fayrouz Hotel on the west bank. Living on the west bank eliminates those windy cold Nile crossings mornings on the launch, and it also cuts travel time to and from work in the KV. It is necessary on occasion to go to the east bank, but not every day. Once my suitcase and baggage were placed in my room at the hotel, then came the customary tours to the SCA offices (taftish) to have our official documents from Zamalek signed and approved. Once that was accomplished, we arranged to meet on January 5th, have our inspector assigned and arrange for the opening of KV-10, our work and storage area for the KV-63 artifacts.
Meanwhile, our Reis, Nubi abd el-Basit, hauled our items stored in Gurna to the hotel and we arranged for a small crew of workmen. No diggers, basket carriers and sifters were needed as we will not be excavating this season, but simply having a study season. The inspector assigned to us for this season is Mohamed Mohamed Khalil. The first staff member to arrive in Luxor was Maryann Marazzi and artist Laurel Darcy Hackley will be joining us on January 25th. Other staff members will join us later in the season.
For conservation and restoration work on the KV-63 coffins, we have with us Ahmed Baghdady and Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed Mahmoud of the SCA. Both men worked with us in 2010, and Ahmed was part of the crew of SCA conservators back in 2006 when we began the process of clearing the chamber of KV-63. Ahmed, therefore, is well acquainted with the conservation and restoration problems caused by the action of the termites.
While not on our official SCA staff list, Saied Hamed Hassan of ARCE’s lab school was permitted to do some tests on the small Coffin D last season. The coffin was moved to the custody of the Luxor Museum and it is hoped that Saied will start work on it soon. The wood from the coffin is essentially gone, but the termite residue remaining was consolidated by Dr. Nadia Lokma in 2006 and our hope is that Saied can remove the resin or varnish coating which partly conceals the details of the small painted face.
Prof. Earl Ertman has been plagued by medical problems arising from earlier hip surgery and was hospitalized at times during the past year. A nasty infection has finally been cleared up, but he is able to get around somewhat with a walker. Though he is not able to travel, his input, comments, suggestions and criticism are ever-present thanks to the speed and efficiency of E-mail.
Photographer George Johnson has worked with us on many occasions, but has finally decided to retire. One of his students,Brent Benjamin,will try to fill in for him a bit later this season.
For this study season, our aims were to complete work on the remaining coffins, bring the pottery drawings and designations to a close and get some inked copies of the seal impressions. In part, we considered getting some start (maybe “re-start”) to the KV-10 portion of the Amenmesse Project, for we still have to gradually clear the tomb of KV-63 artifacts and excavate the descent in the pillared hall. We roughly considered that clearing the rubble from the descent might be possible in the latter part of the 2012 season.
The plans for 2011 had to be changed once we saw the situation in KV-10. Somehow, the SCA in Cairo and Zamalek was given a signal that we had completed the work on the KV-63 artifacts. As a result, many items (not all) were removed sometime during the summer of the 2010. Some artifacts were registered and transferred elsewhere. Coffins E and G are in Minya, slated for the new Aton/Akhenaten museum there, and they are accompanied by 21 of the large storage jars from the chamber of KV-63. The small gilt coffin (object G.6) had been sent to the museum at Sharm el Sheikh last year; we proposed having Sue Osgood (Chicago House artist) draw it as she has drawn all of the other KV-63 coffins, but with the need to alter our plans for this season, we will probably not have time or resources to go to Sharm el Sheikh this season. It is safely housed in the museum and can be drawn later when we can make the necessary arrangements.
The remains of Coffins A, B, C and F are in the magazine here. Coffin B was dealt with and at most we would check it over some morning. Coffin A was made for the “Royal Nurse, Iny” and because the surviving texts do not reflect any of the customary mortuary deities, we have suggested that Iny dated to the Akhenaten era. The termites did terrible damage to this once rather gaudily decorated coffin, but our SCA conservators will try to place and replace more fragments in the hopes of recovering more of this very “non-traditional” text.
At this time, our SCA conservators are preparing to reassemble the upper part of Coffin C. Here the termite damage was considerable; in many areas there is no real wood surviving under the resin, so the chances of finding any decoration (if any ever existed) are very slim. But the conservators should have the head area “restored” within a few days from now.
Coffin F has the more beautiful yellow face mask. It has a few cracks and some splashes of resin on it. We will consider how to deal with Coffin F later in the season. In 2010, we were unable to find any decoration (carved or painted) as the condition of the coffin’s surface under the resin was very bad. It is unfortunate that we have no name or title to go along with this charming face!
As for the large storage jars, all were photographed, some were drawn and for the current season, one goal was to have Ali “Bes” Abdullah mend rims so we can make a count of how many were placed in KV-63. It would be redundant to try and restore any more of them, but by mending the rims we can get a tally. Along with the 28 on the chamber floor, plus those broken and strewn in some of the coffins and other large storage jars, we expect the final count to be ca. 38-40 of these large vessels. Of that total, 21 from the floor of the chamber were registered and transferred to Minya, where they will be in the new Aton museum there.
Another item we hoped to finish with in 2011 were the small seal impressions. In 2010, after artist Laurel Hackley had left the group, we found a few tiny pieces in a small plastic bag from sifting and so we have numbered 62 impressions (most fragmentary of course). Most were drawn in 4:1 scale in pencil by Darcy and it was planned to have her do the traditional silhouette style drawings by tracing from her pencil drawings. The plastic box with the impressions was among the items taken to the magazine while we were away.
Some of the artifacts taken from KV-10 were not essential to our plans for 2011, but many where.We had set aside botanical materials in a tin sanduk for botanist Dr. Ahmed Fahmy to examine. He had checked some botanical materials from KV-63 in 2006 and 2010 and we had set aside other items for him to examine this season.
Finally, some crates and boxes with mended vessels, including many partially restored blue painted jars, had also been removed to the magazine. With the ceramics from KV-63, we have drawn most of the complete and re-constructable vessels, but some of the blue painted wares should be drawn and some await their final identification number. These tasks were also slated for the 2011 season.
How do we adapt to the situation? Our plans were set to our scheduled date, staff and funds, but now we face a totally different situation. When some of our West Valley materials went into that magazine in the 1990’s, the magazine was virtually empty. There would have been ample space to bring tables, chairs and supplies to work with the materials there. But since that time, the original building of what was the magazine now contains more buildings and a host of artifacts from many missions. Our projects’ materials are in a tight space and not well suited for easy access and study.
It was necessary to get some assistance so that we might try to complete some of the tasks we had originally set out to accomplish. We were badly in need of some remedy that would enable us to fulfill some of our plans. A message outlining our situation was sent to the Director-General of the SCA, Dr. Zahi Hawass. Several days later when on a tour of his projects in the KV and elsewhere, Dr. Zahi stopped by KV-10. When he learned that we had given no indication of having completed our investigations and studies, he offered to return ALL of the items in the magazine to KV-10. I suggested that only certain boxes and crates be returned and so he asked me to draw up a list and present it later that day. We know of tin boxes with items we needed, and certain crates had the ceramics we also needed. Some artifacts taken from the shelves could not be identified by a box or crate number as we did not know how they were packed, but we hoped they could be easily located.
Later that morning we presented Dr. Zahi with the list and he signed our request list and we then had permission to bring many of the key items back to KV-10. We then spent part of a morning selecting boxes and items to take back to KV-10, and then the following day, we packed everything on the back of a small truck and drove to the KV. The chief inspectors at the magazine, Yahya abd el-Alim and Ahmed Hassan Obaid have been most cooperative in these proceedings. We should be able to finish with most things and will try to return them to the magazine at season’s end. Our SCA conservators Ahmed and Mohamed Mahmoud have a well lighted lab in the magazine and will continue their work on the coffins there. We made periodic trips to photograph and discuss their progress.
Meanwhile, we are checking our lists and restocking the artifacts taken from the shelves, Ali Abdullah is working on ceramics, especially the large storage jar rims, and I have been drawing pots and adding identification numbers. Darcy will join us later next week to resume drawings of the seal impressions. As our scheduled season was short, we will probably not deal with artifacts moved out of the Luxor area this year, but try to follow up of those next year.
A special “thank you” to Dr. Zahi for issuing the order to allow us to have some of artifacts brought back to KV-10 for study. Until Dr. Zahi came to the rescue, many of our goals for 2011 seemed to be in jeopardy.
It was necessary to delay drafting this first Update for the 2011 season as we had to find the means to adjust to a different set of circumstances than those on which we had planned.
Dr. Otto Schaden