05 DECEMBRE 2017 NEWS: Kom El-Hettan - Ningxia - Prastio-Mesorotsos - Le Caire -
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EGYPTE – Kom El-Hettan - A collection of 27 fragmented statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet has been uncovered during excavation work at the King Amenhotep III funerary temple at the Kom El-Hettan area on Luxor’s west bank. The discovery was made by an Egyptian-European archaeological mission led by archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian as part of the King Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the black-granite statues have a maximum height of about two metres. Some statues depict Sekhmet sitting on a throne, holding the symbol of life in her left hand, while others show her standing and holding a papyrus sceptre before her chest. The head of Sekhmet is crowned with a sun-disk, while a uraeus adorns her forehead. Sourouzian told Ahram Online that the discovery includes many almost complete statues with only the feet and base missing. Those statues that were not buried so deep in the ground are in a good state of preservation, he said. Others that were found at deeper levels are in a bad condition due to subterranean water and salt, which damaged the surface. “The sculptures are of a high artistic quality and of the greatest archaeological interest,” Sourouzian said. She said the importance and quality of the statues explains why they survived a period of extensive quarrying of the temple remains in the Ramesside Period, after a heavy earthquake had toppled the walls and the columns of the temple in 1200 B.C. Sourouzian pointed out that the statues are now in restoration. They will be cleaned and desalinated, as they were lying in a layer of mud and crushed sandstone. All statues of the goddess will be placed back in their original setting when the site protection project is completed. Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, pointed to the collaboration between the European mission and the ministry to ensure ongoing excavation work and the completion of the Amenhotep III Temple protect. The mission began excavation work in 1998, and about 287 statues of Sekhmet have been unearthed since then. The King Amenhotep III temple is the largest of its kind. It was once a magnificent structure with an unprecedented number of royal and divine statues, among them hundreds of statues of Sekhmet. Sekhment, whose name means "Powerful One", is one of three figures in the Triad of Memphis sculpture, which also features Ptah and Ramses III.
CHINE – Ningxia - Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwest China might have been under the imperial rule of Chinese emperors much earlier than archeologists previously thought, according to the recent excavation of a group of 3,000-year-old tombs. Experts from China's top archeological research institutions, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking University and Nanjing University, have gathered in Ningxia's Pengyang County to join the excavation of the Yaoheyuan Ruins, where an area of 620,000 square meters has been excavated. Ma Qiang, who leads the archeological team, told Xinhua on Monday that all of the tombs had been looted prior to the start of the official excavation earlier this year. However, the team has found the main tomb of a Marquis-level ruler 13 meters underground. Although no bronze burial vessels with inscriptions identifying the owner of the tomb have been located, they have found two jade mantis. A similar jade mantis was unearthed from China's World Heritage listed Yinxu archeological site near Anyang in central China's Henan Province, which was an ancient capital city in the late Shang Dynasty (1300 B.C. to 1046 B.C.) "The jade item provides strong evidence of the tomb owner's relationship with the imperial governments during the period from the late Shang to the middle of Western Zhou (1046 B.C. - 771 B.C.) dynasties," said Zhang Tian'en from the Shaanxi Provincial Archeological Research Institute. Liu Xu, a professor at Peking University, said the discovery of the ruins suggests that Ningxia was part of the imperial empire from the late Shang Dynasty, about 1,000 years earlier than previously believed. The team has only excavated one quarter of the area, and Liu said it should contain another 40 neighboring tombs. Experts believe the area was a Marquis fief in the northern frontier of the dynasties. Two horse burial pits and a chariot burial pit were excavated near the Marquis tomb. The large horse pit bears remains of 12 horses. There were four carriages found in the chariot pit. Archeologists expect to find more remains of horses under the chariot pit. As well as the tombs, the team has also discovered ruins of a bronze casting workshop, moats and water drainage and road networks at the site.
CHYPRE – Prastio-Mesorotsos - During this season’s excavations at the multi-period site of Prastio-Mesorotsos in the Paphos district a number of shallow pits were found many containing broken objects placed in a ritualistic manner, including stone vessels, human remains and a fragment of an anthropomorphic clay figurine. The discovery of a rare stone-shaped engraved object confirmed that the site was in use during the Aceramic Neolithic period. These engraved stone objects have also been found in the neighbouring location of Choletria-Ortos, Choirokitia and Lebanon. Although their use has not yet been established, these objects reveal contact between Cyprus and inhabitants of other coasts at a time when the island’s special Neolithic culture is thought to have been developed. The discoveries were announced by the department of antiquities on Monday at the completion of this year’s archeological investigations at the site. The archaeological site is situated around the valley of the Diarizos river with spectacular views of both the mountains and the sea. The location of the settlement and its easy access to a variety of raw materials are elements that appear to have contributed to its longevity. During the 10th excavation period, the research team conducted excavations in four areas revealing remains dated to the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age. In previous seasons the team discovered a series of Early Bronze Age roundhouses, unusual for the period, which show a continuity from the preceding Late Chalcolithic period. A significant architectural and social change seems to have occurred near the end of the Early Bronze Age and the start of the Middle Bronze Age. The remains of the Bronze Age continue to show that in the Early Bronze Age the inhabitants adapted past habits of the Chalcolithic period and gradually adopted new practices in the Bronze Age. The most significant changes, however, were noted in the civilization and society between the Early and Middle Bronze Age when the whole settlement changed from a small, open-air village to a more organised settlement with terraces. In the excavation area are remains of these terraces in good condition where a wall seems to have had a height of up to two floors. This helps to understand how the settlement would have looked like during the Middle Bronze Age shortly before its inhabitants abandoned it: a village built on various levels with dense terraces and walls that would look particularly high to somebody approaching from the river.
EGYPTE – Le Caire - Ongoing efforts to conserve the dome of the Al-Imam Al-Shafie mosque in Old Cairo have uncovered sections of an intact lower wall forming part of an earlier shrine this week. The previous shrine consisted of an open courtyard with three prayer niches attached to a domed hall. Also uncovered were decorated carved stucco features, coloured marble, stone flooring and fragments of a masonry dome. This building pre-dates the current shrine of Al-Imam Al-Shafie, which was built by the Ayyubid Sultan Al-Kamil in the year 1211 AD and was built after Al-Imam Al-Shafie was buried there in 820 AD,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Director-General of Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project told Ahram Online. He added that the newly uncovered shrine is a significant addition to our understanding of the history of Islamic architecture and history in Egypt. Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris Al-Shafie was the founder of the Shafie madhab, one of the four major jurisprudential schools of Sunni Islam. A proponent of rational thought who is credited by some today as the originator of the scientific method, Al-Shafie dedicated his life to developing a comprehensive theory of jurisprudence that earned him the title the "Sea of Knowledge." He was also a great poet who wrote simply yet eloquently about the value of travel, learning and contemplation. Historic sources mention that when he died, he was buried in the mausoleum of Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, an Arab tribe that came to Egypt with the Islamic conquest in the 7th century AD and settled there, becoming one of its most prominent families.