Photo Of The Day: Egyptian Sphinx

Thanksgiving is a holiday that embraces traditions. It only seemed appropriate then to close out this long holiday weekend with an image of that most-iconic of Egyptian historical landmarks: the Sphinx. This image was taken by Flickr user robert vaccaro. I like the shot’s side-profile perspective and the nice contrast of sandy rock with clean, blue sky. It’s a simple yet classic image that’s well framed and eye-catching.

Taken any great photos on your trip to Egypt? Or maybe just during your visit to Cairo, Illinois? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user robert vaccaro]

Tutankhamun statue and other artifacts stolen from Egyptian Museum, Zahi Hawass reports

TutankhamunThe Head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has posted some sad news on his blog. During the recent political upheaval in Cairo the Egyptian Museum was broken into and some artifacts were stolen. We reported earlier that two mummies were damaged but nothing was stolen. Now that the museum staff have been able to do an inventory it appears that during that incident the intruders also took some artifacts.

The most famous is a gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess, shown here. Another Tutankhamun statue was damaged. Several other priceless artifacts are also missing. A complete list can be found here. Dr. Hawass writes that 70 artifacts were knocked over or damaged.

Dr. Hawass also reports a storeroom near the pyramid at Dashur was broken into. There were attempted break-ins at a few other museums as well. No word yet on any missing artifacts.

The Egyptian Museum is on Tahrir Square where the Cairo protests were centered. Dr. Hawass and museum employees have been sleeping in the museum to protect it. On several occasions during the past weeks many protesters made a human barrier to protect the building. Sadly, the thieves took advantage of the confusion on the street level to break in through the roof.

The BBC reports that previous reports of damaged mummies appear to be incorrect and were the result of confusion over a couple of skulls that had been taken from their cases. Also, a group of suspects have been arrested and are being questioned in relation to the break in. The museum remains closed for an indefinite period.

Egypt changes stance: King Tut’s tomb will stay open (for now)

Egypt, egypt
The famous tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt will remain open for the time being, the chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass announced.

While earlier this week he stated that it and two other tombs in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor would close by the end of the year, now he’s saying that they’ll close at some undetermined time in the future.

Egypt plans to build a Valley of the Replicas to show off exact duplicates of King Tut’s tomb and those of Seti I and Queen Nefertari. These and other tombs are suffering damage due to the large numbers of people passing through. The extra humidity from their breath is causing mold to grow and is damaging the ancient paintings that adorn the walls. The number of visitors to Tutankhamun’s tomb has already been limited to 1,000 a day, down from a peak of 6,000 a day.

Once the Valley of the Replicas is open, and there’s no set date for that yet, King Tut’s tomb will close to everyone except those paying an extra fee that will probably run into the thousands of dollars. The pharaoh’s mummy will remain in its tomb.

[Photo courtesy user Kounosu via Wikimedia Commons]

Egypt to close Tutankhamun’s tomb

Tutankhamun, egypt, Egypt
The Valley of the Kings is one of the highlights of any trip to Egypt. In this hot, dusty ravine are some of the most remarkable tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. Paintings adorn their walls, showing the soul’s journey through the afterlife and the gods and goddesses described in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Now the most popular of those tombs is going to close. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has announced he will close Tutankhamun’s tomb by the end of the year. Two others will also close. The brilliant paintings that make the tombs so attractive were preserved because the tombs were sealed. With thousands of people passing through every day, the tombs have become hotter and more humid. Paint is flaking off and mold is growing in some parts, as you can see from the above photo. It’s sad, but to save the tombs they have to be shut from public view.

Dr. Hawass has commissioned an exact replica of King Tut’s tomb so that visitors will get an idea what the original looked like.

[Photo courtesy user Hajor via Wikimedia Commons]

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Met returns Tutankhamun artifacts to Egypt


New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is returning 19 artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb to Egypt. This is another success in Egypt’s ongoing battle to bring home its heritage. Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass is spearheading the drive and says he’s repatriated more than 5,000 artifacts. These include a fragment of Egyptian sculpture the Met discovered last year had actually been stolen, and other items from collections all over Europe and North America.

According to the Met’s press release, the artifacts made their way into the museum’s collection in the years following the tomb’s discovery by Howard Carter in 1922. Carter and the Egyptian authorities had agreed that all of his finds were Egyptian property, and the objects should never have been allowed to be sold or bequeathed to the Met. After Carter’s death, his own home was found to be decorated with loot from the tomb. Most of the Met’s artifacts are fragments that were used as scientific samples, but the collection includes a bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet.

The objects will join the exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Discovery Times Square Exposition before going on display at the Met for six months. After that, they’ll finally join King Tut’s other treasures in Cairo, like the scarab bracelet in the above photo.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]