Menkheperre Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His egyptian name Djehutymes means “Born of Thoth”, the god of writing and wisdom.

This pharaoh is regarded by egyptologists and other experts in ancient egyptian history as the greatest of Egypt’s kings, despite the fame of Ramses II. No doubt Thutmose III was Egypt’s greatest warrior pharaoh. He transformed his country into the first great empire in the Ancient World, and was also a prolific builder of temples during his reign from 1479 to 1425 BC.

Widely considered a military genius by historians, he was an active expansionist ruler who is sometimes referred to as the “Napoleon of Egypt”, because he was recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered much of the Near East, from the Euphrates to Nubia during seventeen known military campaigns. He was the first pharaoh to cross the Euphrates, during his campaign against Mitanni. His campaign records were then transcribed onto the walls of the temple to Amen at Karnak.

Thutmose III was the son of Pharaoh Thutmose II and Aset (sometimes transliterated Isis), a minor wife. When his father died, the child became king. Hatshepsut, his father’s widow, acted as regent and eventually as the dominant co-ruler and real ruler of Egypt. For approximately 22 years the young pharaoh had little power over the empire while Hatshepsut assumed the formal titulary of kingship. After the death of Hatshepsut, he effectively ruled Egypt on his own for 32 years until his death in his 54th regnal year.

Until recently, a general theory has been that after the death of her husband, Hatshepsut ‘usurped’ the throne from the child pharaoh. Although Thutmose III was a co-regent during this time, early historians have speculated that he never forgave his step-mother for denying him access to the throne for the first 2 decades of his reign. However, this theory has in recent times been reviewed, as questions arise why Hatshepsut would have allowed a resentful heir to control armies, which it is known he did. This view is further supported by the fact that no strong evidence has been found to show Thutmose III was actively seeking to reclaim his throne. Added to this is the fact that the monuments of Hatshepsut were not damaged until at least twenty years after her death, and often much later. Some vandalization is suspected to have been by the ‘heretic king’, Akhenaten.

Sculptures of Thutmose III are among the most refined and stylized of egyptian portraiture. In this category he created a new kind of “offering to the gods statue” in kneeling position. His image is an idealized face, a blend of tradition and contemporary ideal of formal beauty.

The pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV34) is the first one in which egyptologists find the complete Amduat, an important New Kingdom funerary text. The “stick figures” which decorate his tomb are the only one of its kind in all of Egypt’s funerary art.

Here are some interesting Sphinx facts to know before your tour of the Giza necropolis. They will help you appreciate even more this fabulous Egypt icon.

The Great Sphinx of Egypt is part of the funerary complex of the Egyptian pharaoh Khafre, builder of the second Giza Pyramid, who reigned between 2558 and 2532 B.C. more than 4,000 years ago.

The face of the Sphinx is believed to represent Khafre, which makes it the oldest large-scale royal portrait known.

The Great Sphinx of Egypt is the largest free-standing sculpture. It is 57 metres (260 feet) long, 6 m (20 ft) wide, and has a height of 20 m (65 ft)

It was carved from a single outcrop of limestone, making it the largest single-stone statue in the world. The layers of the limestone of the Giza plateau from which the Sphinx is carved are different in strength. The stone of the first two layers up to its chest is of poor quality, so the ancient sculptors added more solid blocks to the lower parts and carved the details. The head, with its nemes headcloth, uraeus, and false beard is carved directly on the stronger layer of the mother rock.

The Great Sphinx faces due east, in salutation of the rising sun.

A millenium after it was built, the Sphinx was covered in sand up to its neck. Around 1400 BC, Thutmose IV of the New Kingdom claimed his legitimacy to the throne of Egypt by clearing the sands. This he did after falling asleep under its shadow and receiving a message to do so from Re-Harmachis through the Sphinx itself. Thutmose IV had a granite stela known as the Dream Stela placed between the paws, which travelers can see on a tour of the Sphinx. He had many of the fallen Old Kingdom blocks replaced and also built a huge mud-brick wall in the shape of a large cartouche to protect the statue from the wind and stop erosion.

The Sphinx was finally dug out in its entirety in 1925.

Another curious Sphinx fact: The Western name “Sphinx” was given to it in antiquity based on the legendary Greek mythology sphinx, a creature with the body of a lion, the head of a woman and the wings of a bird, though Egyptian sphinxes have the head of a man.

Sphinx facts about the missing nose: A legend that the nose of the Great Sphinx was broken off by a cannon ball fired by Napoleon’s soldiers still survives, as do diverse variants indicting British troops, Mamluks, and others. However, sketches of the Sphinx by Frederick Lewis Norden made in 1737 and published in 1755 already illustrate the Sphinx without a nose. The Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, writing in the fifteenth century, attributes the vandalism to Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, a Sufi fanatic from the khanqah of Sa’id al-Su’ada. In 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa’im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose. Al-Maqrizi describes the Sphinx as the “Nile talisman” on which the locals believed the cycle of inundation depended.

Sphinx Mythology: The Great Sphinx was believed to stand as a guardian of the Giza Plateau, where it faces the rising sun. It was the focus of solar worship in the Old Kingdom, centered in the adjoining temples built around the time of its probable construction. Its animal form, the lion, has long been a symbol associated with the sun in ancient Near Eastern civilizations. Images depicting the Egyptian king in the form of a lion smiting his enemies appear as far back as the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. During the New Kingdom, the Sphinx became more specifically associated with the god Hor-em-akhet (Greek Harmachis) or Horus at the Horizon, which represented the Pharaoh in his role as the Shesep ankh of Atum (living image of Atum). A temple was built to the northeast of the Sphinx by King Amenhotep II, nearly a thousand years after its construction, dedicated to the cult of Horemakhet.

Riddle of the Sphinx: The Great Sphinx is one of the world’s largest and oldest statues, yet basic Sphinx facts about it such as the real-life model for the face, when it was built, and by whom, are debated. These questions have collectively earned the title “Riddle of the Sphinx”, a nod to its Greek namesake, although this phrase should not be confused with the original Greek Oedipus and riddle Sphinx legend.

The pyramid has been used as a visual metaphor to describe the social structures of ancient Egypt. The position of an individual in the social pyramid was determined by birth circumstances such as class, gender and race, and the relationship among social groups were determined by their occupations.

Ancient Egypt was ruled by a very small rich upper class who enjoyed power and wealth while the large masses of Egyptian workers and peasants struggled to subsist. The ruling class depended on a social system of administrators who organized the work force, managed resources and taxed the surplus production. For their services, these government officials received favors and could rise to the highest ranks in the administration.

Not unlike other ancient or modern societies, the only possible ways for people of so called low birth to move upwards in the social structures of ancient Egypt were skill, literacy and a military career. Peasants could have their sons learn a trade apprenticed by priests or by artisans. Boys who learned reading, writing and arithmetics could become scribes and work in the government. Besides this basic knowledge they could learn a profession, such as architecture, medicine and engineering and greatly improve their social status.

Both the military and the priesthood are sometimes considered separate classes in the social structures of ancient Egypt, but their members came from all strata of society.

No doubt the upper despised the lower classes as inferiors, and many instances of abuse were committed, but peasants and farmers were not slaves. They had property rights and servants could inherit their masters possessions when these died childless. Other members of the working class, i.e. artisans, were their own masters. They owned property and land, and could freely buy and sell their products in the market.

Since many archaeological excavations are focused on the royal life, a misconception about the existence of large population settlements (cities and towns) in Ancient Egypt have pervaded.

Written records exists about the daily activities of the working class, and household and working utensils have been found, catalogued and studied. Sir William Flinders Petrie, the father of Egyptian archaeology, is credited for his enormous contributions to the discovery of these common objects, which sheds light on life and the social structures of ancient Egypt.

A recent discovery of an administrative building and granaries in the present town of Edfu provides physical evidence of a work place and the importance of commerce as an intricate part of daily Egyptian life. The Tell Edfu site includes a public town center that was used for collecting taxes, conducting business, recording accounting, and writing documents. Grain was used as a form of currency in Ancient Egypt and, judging by the size of the silos, the town must have been quite prosperous.

Towns in Ancient Egypt were made of mud brick, much less permanent than stone. Modern Egyptians live exactly on the same place of their ancestors, on towns located on the banks of the Nile. This makes it more difficult for archaeologists to excavate ancient Egyptian towns, like the one in Edfu. Many are no longer existent, since soil from the Nile was used in later constructions and farming activities. Tel Edfu demonstrates the existence of ancient Egyptian urban culture and the importance of local nobles to the pharaoh’s exercise of power.

Senet is a game for two players, each with a set of a maximum of 7 pieces, although the game can be played with lesser but equal number of pieces (i.e: 6, 5 , 4, etc. pieces each).

The board consists of 30 squares called houses, arranged in three rows of 10 squares each. The pieces are placed alternatively starting on square 1 and ending on square 14.

Blue plays first. You may start with any piece that can make a legal move.

Press the button to see how many squares to move your piece forward.

Pieces move around the board left to right in the first row, right to left in the second row and left to right in the third row.

• 1 = move 1 square and play again • 2 = move 2 squares • 3 = move 3 squares • 4 = move 4 squares and play again • 5 = Cannot move. Lose a turn • 6 = move 6 squares senet piece movement

A piece cannot land on a square occupied by a piece belonging to that same player.

When a piece lands on a square occupied by the other player’s piece, they switch places, unless that player has two or more pieces in a row, in which case the pieces are “protected”. Pieces on squares 26, 28 and 29 are always safe from being switched.

When a player has 3 or more pieces in a row, it “blocks” the other player’s pieces and these cannot pass.

As you play along, you may encounter situations in which a move is not possible and you must therefore relinquish your turn. If you obtain a 1 or 4 and you cannot move a piece, you’re still allowed another turn. This may go on until you obtain a 5 (lose a turn) or another number that lets you move.


house of rebirthThe House of Rebirth (SQUARE 15): You land here after falling on the Nilesenet nile square(SQUARE 27). If the House of Rebirth is occupied (by you or your opponent), then you must land on the closest open square behind.

senet seth squareThe House of Seth (SQUARE 21): This is an evil square. You must exit only with numbers 1, 4 or 6. This last number will drop you straight onto the river, though.

Getting the pieces out of the Senet board:

IMPORTANT: To exit the board, the first row must be emptied of that player’s pieces.

All pieces must land on the House of Happiness (SQUARE 26) before proceeding to the last three squares. From the House of Happiness you can move to any of the last 4 squares by obtaining the corresponding number:

• Get a 1 and you fall into the river and move back to the House of Rebirth.

• Get a 2 and you reach the House of the Spirits (Khu)(SQUARE 28). Moving from here to the last 2 squares is prohibited. You must get a 3 and leave the board.

• Get a 3 and you reach the House of the Double (Ka)(SQUARE 29). Moving from here to the last square is prohibited. You must get a 2 and leave the board.

• Get a 4 and you reach the last square. You must get a 1 to leave the board.

• Get a 6 and you get to leave the board.

IMPORTANT: Getting to the last 3 squares (28, 29, 30) require that you land in the House of Happiness first.

First player to get all of their pieces off the board wins the game of Senet.

Good luck and may the Neteru be with you.

Article and Photos by Andie Byrnes ©2008-2009

Toiletries and medication Take sun protection cream. You should judge from experience and then add another couple of factors to be safe because most people seriously underestimate the power of the sun in the desert. Lipstick-style sun sticks with very high factors weigh nothing and will be invaluable if you have underestimated your sun block needs. You may want to take some type of after-sun solution too, in case you overestimate your tolerance and burn. I take Germoline, but there are plenty of specialized products on the market. Lip salve is also a must. The heat can be deceptive – a breeze can lead you to seriously underestimate the power of the sun. Sun stroke makes you feel sick and dizzy and can lead to worse things. Treat the sun with respect and make use of shade when it is available.

Water is for drinking, not for washing, so wet-wipes are an absolute essential if you ever want to get a sense of being clean. Wet wipes make you feel human. Go to the baby goods section of your local supermarket – they will be far less expensive and much more generous in size than the posh skin-care types in the face cream section. Often the supemarket’s own-brand offerings are the better option because they have solid plastic lids rather than sticky clear seals. The seals become clogged with sand, cease to seal and your wet wipes cease to be wet, which completely defeats the object of having carried them all the way to the desert. You may come to detest that baby-fragranced aroma after a while, so you may want to take fragrance-free ones. On the other hand, even a light scent can hide a multitude of aromatic sins! Your main luggage will be on top of the car, so keep a pack handy in your hand luggage for using in the car after a jaunt – they are an instant relief after extreme heat and sand.

Toilet roll will be required. Some tour companies will supply toilet roll and others will ask you to take your own supplies, but it is much the best thing to take your own supply as well. Toilet roll weighs nothing and can be useful for all sorts of things. Your tour guide is unlikely to be a qualified pharmacist and is therefore not permitted to prescribe you with any medication. This means that you need to think about what to take. It may be wise to ask your Doctor. My own personal collection of potions includes antiseptic cream, pain killers, antihistamine, insect repellent (the mosquitos in Farafra are savage), anti-vomit and anti-diarrhoea pills, eye drops (the sand can be very abrasive) and hydrocortisone cream. This is always accompanied by an arsenal of plasters, cotton bandages and liquid-skin type products. My record of walking into things, off things and over things is legendary – I never do more than graze myself, but I like to have the security of knowing that I can pamper the damage.

Clothing On the subject of clothing, the most important piece of advice is that you bring a hat to wear with your sun protection cream. In the unlikely event that you find you don’t need it you can leave the hat in the sun but it is a vital part of your equipment. It will probably prevent you from burning but, should you burn, it will mean that you can still leave the vehicle during the day!

If you are female then a stay in the oases means that you will need at least one short-sleeved shirt, rather than a vest because it is impolite to reveal shoulders. It is also considered to be extremely insensitive to show legs, so trousers are required. Men in shorts are regarded as a considerable oddity as it is thought that they are in their underwear. So in all cases trousers are a good idea for the oases.

It is very much a case of personal preference what you wear once you are in the desert itself. One lady who came on one of our tours wore lipstick and Chanel No.5 every day, which is one of numerous great memories, but most of us have somewhat less exacting standards.

Long sleeves and light weight trousers are essential. Jeans are heavy, and even lightweight stretch jeans tend to be a mistake because they make you perspire. A trip to an outdoor shop should provide you with some basic items but failing that you can make do with light weight cotton-based items. Specialized clothing is available but usually unnecessary.

Unless you are very secure about your skin and what levels of exposure to the sun it can handle, you should avoid shorts and short skirts. And again, always take a hat – the sun is truly punishing.

If you are assigned to one car for your trip and don’t want to wear anything more than a vest top, it is a good idea to leave a long-sleeved shirt in the vehicle, together with your hat and sun lotion, so that you have it available at all times. Layers are a very good approach – vest tops let you stay cool in the car but having a long sleeved shirt offers protection in the sun. Simple cotton scarves are a godsend – they can be wrapped around the head for complete protection of the head, neck and shoulders, or just draped where needed. This allows you to enjoy every moment of the day without worrying about the fact that you are getting a bit red around the edges!

Footwear needs to be considered. I wear open-weave running shoes which look like trainers with mesh instead of leather during the day and something lightweight in the evening around the camp. Others wear hiking boots which are practical for uneven surfaces but tend to be hot. Open toed sandals can collect sand and gravel like shovels – some people seem to have the knack of walking in them, but most don’t. In addition, they afford very little protection against rocks and anything that might take offense at being stepped on.

It may seem odd to recommend that you take some form of swimming gear with you, but if you are passing through the oases then you may have the opportunity for a dip in a hot spring – an opportunity not to be missed. After a long hot day there is nothing more enjoyable than the feel of the mineral water. During the day you can look up at the palm trees and at night at the stars.

When considering what to wear at night I would recommend vest-tops, sweatshirts and leggings, accompanied in my case by socks. You may not need to wear them but they may be very valuable if it gets cold – and if you need to go for a walkabout in the middle of the night. It is cosy to curl up in your sleeping bag at night, safe in the knowledge that you will be as warm as toast, and it is nice to know that if you do need to take a stroll behind a sand dune to answer the call of nature you can enjoy the night sky without acquiring goose-bumps.

I seriously recommend you to keep one outfit, preferably sealed in a bag of its own, for the going-home leg – the hotel and plane. It is always a nice feeling to know that when you get to a shower you can change into fresh clothes.

Technology You will need some form of lighting. A torch is useful, but a miner’s light even better. You may feel like a bit of a lemon at first, wandering around with a light on the front of your forehead, but believe me you won’t let it worry you for long when you need both hands to accomplish something in the dark. Wind-up and shake-up products don’t need batteries and they seem excellent but can be noisy at night. Lighting is not just useful for investigating the depths of your luggage in the middle of the night, or for reading a chapter of your book before you drop off. You will probably to make your way to answer a call of nature by moonlight and starlight, and very lovely it is too, but you will probably want some lighting to be on the safe side. Lighting also can be very handy for getting a better look at dark nooks and crannies in caves and overhangs during the daytime too. Rock art was not always painted in convenient places.

I advise you to take more batteries than you think you are going to need. Late nights, sleepless nights and early mornings all take place in the dark and you are not going to want to be counting the battery hours that your torch has left. Similarly, if you are taking a GPS unit with you, they do tend to chomp through batteries, as do cameras and personal stereos/MP3s. Solar battery chargers have been making an appearance in travel catalogues but I haven’t had the chance to use any yet. Being able to relax knowing that you have all you need will give you the sense of freedom that makes this sort of trip really enjoyable.

Mobile phones may be of use. There is no coverage in the desert when you leave the oases, but there is usually excellent coverage in Bahariya, Farafra and Dakhleh – even out several kilometers from the road into the White Desert at Farafra. However, you can also use a mobile phone as an alarm clock. Most phones will allow you to set an alarm and switch them off to save the battery, reactivating themselves in the morning to set off the alarm. I bet it plays havoc with the local wildlife each morning, but needs must!

Binoculars are great for looking at any bird and other wild life, and for bringing the night sky into focus. The stars are amazing in the desert and even a pair of standard binoculars can significantly enhance the experience). If you are a sky-watching novice a planisphere can help you find your way around the night sky. You can spot migrating birds and nesting birds of prey at the right times of year, and just looking through binoculars over the vast distances can be a really impressive experience. If you are bringing a camera you should bring a decent case for it to protect the precious thing against the sand and any falls, and for the same reason make sure that you have a filter permanently over your lens. You might also want to bring a spare camera, a camera cleaning kit (particularly important given the prevalence of sand) and plenty of any spare specialized batteries all fully charged up. I always take more photographs than I think I will so I carry a number of digital storage cards which I carry in my hand luggage. Several smaller cards are better than one big one in case the one card becomes faulty, which did happen to me. Don’t forget to look up in your manual how to turn off the flash facility if it is automatic – temples in the oases don’t permit it and it would damage the wonderful rock art. The desert is magically photogenic, as is the rock art, and if you like photography you are going to love the experience of pointing your camera at this amazing landscape.

I have never taken a laptop and see no need to take one. Apart from the inconvenience of carrying it around it is almost impossible to stop sand getting into the keyboard.

It is not always possible to recharge your technology (camera, GPS, mobile phone, laptop etc) in the vehicles using the cigarette lighter because these are usually reserved for the tour team’s own equipment which must take priority, so make sure that you have enough spare batteries and that you have enough fully charged specialized batteries to last you. Just charge them up in the last of the oases hotels before you go to bed.Other practicalities when packing your luggage

Take sealable plastic bags with you – you will find them a godsend. You can get them from the freezer-bag section of any supermarket, and do be sure to select at least one back of the large ones. There are three principal uses for them:

• Sand gets into everything and can seriously mess up the works of anything mechanical – you will find it less of a challenge to keep things working if you seal them in a bag. • There are some things you just don’t want to leave in the desert, things which won’t biodegrade, and these must be taken with you. If they are hygiene related, they may not weather well in the extreme heat – seal the offending items away and dispose of them in the communal rubbish sacks when convenient. • They are also great from preventing your toothpaste or shampoo from ruining your holiday clothing when it makes a break for freedom.

You might find it handy to take a good handful of supermarket bags with you. They are fantastic for organizing your main luggage when living out of a tent – you can even find your way around your luggage in the dark by knowing which items you have placed together in bags. And they are a good way of isolating used (beyond the pale) clothes from clean(ish) ones. Clothes tend to be recycled because it is impossible to take enough to deal with the conditions and there is no water with which to wash them, of course. But if you go down the supermarket bag route be careful to sort yourself out before everyone goes to bed – you can make yourself very unpopular by rustling your way through your bags when everyone is trying to sleep!

Optional extras for your luggage might include relevant tourist guides, listed at the end, an Egyptian Arabic phrase book, a large map of Egypt and some parcel tape. I never travel without parcel tape. Easing oil can have its uses too. If you are likely to want some idea of how big things are, take a tape measure too, which can also be useful to add to photographs for scale. I also take hair thingies with me – fabric coated elastic bands which I use to scrape my sand-infested hair into a pony tail, but are also invaluable for a thousand other uses. Some people’s eyes found the sand more troublesome than others, and bring wrap-around sunglasses or goggles. I had no trouble with my contact lenses, but a spare pair of prescription specs are a sensible precaution.

Because luggage travelling on the roof-racks may become exceedingly hot during the day you should make sure that no aerosols or anything that might explode or melt should be taken along.


Andie Byrnes trained as an archaeologist and is presently carrying out post-graduate studies in Egyptian Archaeology (prehistory) at UCL, London. She writes and manages Egyptology News, the most comprehensive news blog about Ancient Egypt and related topics.

Fighting the tomb raider

When you visit museums in the principal cities around the world, you see all sorts of artifacts from many cultures and epochs. A sizable portion of these objects were taken out of their original context by legal and not so legal means. Early archaeology involved the legendary tomb raider and their bosses looting national treasures as a result of military expeditions, principally by European powers that today own and display these objects as a matter of imperial pride.

The time has come for the legitimacy of possession of objects pillaged from their original countries to be put into question.

Egypt has made a formal request for the return of five objects it considers essential to its national heritage. The objects in question are the Rosetta Stone, now in the British Museum in London, the bust of Nefertiti in the Altes Museum in Berlin, the statue of Great Pyramid architect Hemiunnu in the Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum in Hilesheim, the Dendera Temple Zodiac in the Louvre in Paris, and the bust of Kephren pyramid builder Ankhaf in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The question of the return of stolen and looted art to their original countries is not an easy one. On the one hand, museums in places like London, Paris and New York are regarded as better equipped to preserve these ancient artifacts. They also promote scientific research and contribute greatly to the value of these objects by allowing millions of visitors to see them every year. In fact, economic considerations weigh heavily against the return of an object of immense touristic attraction like the Bust of Nefertiti. Another point to consider is that many of these archaeological treasures belong to extinct civilizations not represented by the people or government presently occupying that location.

Egypt has made strong advances toward the conservation of its national treasures, including state-of-the-art technology and modern structural facilities. The country can raise enormous resources to improve its archaeological site research and restoration efforts by the boost in tourism these highly cherished treasures will assuredly signify to the Egyptian economy. A possible compromise is to declare these cultural artifacts the patrimony of its country of origin, but to keep them on loan at museums in Europe and the United States.

The components of property include possession, beneficial interest and the right to transfer ownership (usus, fructus and abusus as per Roman law).

As of now, objects such as the Rosetta Stone are under full property of the museums that possess them.

Possible solutions might include but are not limited to the following options: 1.) Mutual property where decisions pertaining possession, beneficial interests and right to dispose of an ancient artifact must be agreed upon by both parties. 2.) Present museum keeps the object but shares with the country of origin the beneficial interests produced by museum visits and publishing rights. 3.) A transfer of ownership to the country of origin but keeping the ancient artifact in the present museum as a long term or permanent loan.

Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970

Article 7 The States Parties to this Convention undertake:

(a) To take the necessary measures, consistent with national legislation, to prevent museums and similar institutions within their territories from acquiring cultural property originating in another State Party which has been illegally exported after entry into force of this Convention, in the States concerned. Whenever possible, to inform a State of origin Party to this Convention of an offer of such cultural property illegally removed from that State after the entry into force of this Convention in both States;

(b) (i) to prohibit the import of cultural property stolen from a museum or a religious or secular public monument or similar institution in another State Party to this Convention after the entry into force of this Convention for the States concerned, provided that such property is documented as appertaining to the inventory of that institution;

(ii) at the request of the State Party of origin, to take appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property imported after the entry into force of this Convention in both States concerned, provided, however, that the requesting State shall pay just compensation to an innocent purchaser or to a person who has valid title to that property. Requests for recovery and return shall be made through diplomatic offices. The requesting Party shall furnish, at its expense, the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return. The Parties shall impose no customs duties or other charges upon cultural property returned pursuant to this Article. All expenses incident to the return and delivery of the cultural property shall be borne by the requesting Party.

Source: UNESCO

Ramses the Second of Egypt, also known as Ramesses the Great and alternatively transcribed as Ramses and Rameses is the greatest pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, and one of the most well known Egyptian kings, comparable in fame to King Tutankhamen.

Everything about Ramses II has to have the suffix “the Great” added. He reigned for a very long period, 67 years, and died in his 90s, at a time when the life expectancy was in the late thirties or early forties.

Along with the five royal names given to pharaohs, Ramses the Second had about a hundred epithets, such as “The Great Bull, Beloved of Maat, Protector of Egypt, Conqueror of Foreign Lands, Rich in Years, Great in Victories, Lord of the Two Lands, and so on.

The two most important, his prenomen (king name) and nomen (birth name) are transliterated as User Maat Re Setep en Re and Ra Meses Meri Amen, respectively. It translates as “Powerful one of Maat, the Justice of Ra is Powerful, chosen of Ra, Ra bore him, beloved of Amen”.

The pharaoh had four Royal Wives, a large harem and fathered about 80 children. His most beloved and venerated wife was Nefertari. Ramses outlived many of his sons and daughters. Merneptah, his 13th son, eventually succeeded him.

Early in his reign, Ramses the Second decided to attack territory in the Levant which belonged to a more substantial enemy, the Hittite Empire. At the Second Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC towards the end of the fourth year of his reign, Egyptian forces under his leadership marched through the coastal road through Canaan and south Syria through the Bekaa Valley and approached Kadesh from the south. Ramses planned to seize the citadel of Kadesh which belonged to king Muwatallis of the Hittite Empire. The battle almost turned into a disaster, but with bravery at the command of his Amen Brigade and the reinforcement of the Ptah Brigade, Ramses managed to turn the tide of battle against the Hittites. Egypt’s sphere of influence was now restricted to Canaan while Syria fell into Hittite hands. Over the ensuing years, Ramses the Second would return to campaign against the Hittites. However, neither power could decisively defeat the other in battle. Consequently, in the twenty-first year of his reign (1258 BC), Ramses decided to conclude an agreement with the new Hittite king at Kadesh, Hattusili III, to end the conflict. The ensuing document is the earliest known peace treaty in world history.

Ramses the Second of Egypt drove his attention to campaigning south of the first cataract into Nubia and into massive monument building, including the renowned archeological complex of Abu Simbel, and the mortuary temple known as the Ramesseum. It is said that there are more statues of him in existence than of any other Egyptian pharaoh, not surprising as he was the second-longest-reigning Pharaoh of Egypt after Pepi II. A colossal statue of Ramses the Second of Egypt was taken from a temple in Memphis. reconstructed and erected in 1955 on Ramses Square in Cairo, a well known tourist spot. In August 2006, contractors moved the 3,200-year-old statue from Ramses Square to save it from exhaust fumes that were causing the 83-ton statue to deteriorate. The new site will be located near the future Grand Egyptian Museum. The mummy of Ramses the Great is the most famous attraction in the collection of Royal Mummies at the Egyptian Museum.

In 1995, Professor Kent Weeks, head of the Theban Mapping Project rediscovered Tomb KV5. It has proven to be the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings which originally contained the mummified remains of some of the pharaoh’s estimated 52 sons. Approximately 150 corridors and tomb chambers have been located in this tomb as of 2006 and the tomb may contain as many as 200 corridors and chambers.

Ever since the amazing discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, this beautiful limestone portrait has been regarded as one of the greatest art masterpieces in the world. It was found in the atelier of the famed ancient Egyptian sculptor Thutmose at Tel el Amarna, by the German expedition of 1912. Chief archaeologist Ludwig Borchard was so awed by its stunning beauty, that he devised a scheme to smuggle the piece out of Egypt.

Every archaeological discovery had in those days to be brought before the Egyptian Antiquities Authority for inventory and distribution between Egypt and the archaeological expedition. This committee supervised the split between the objects that stayed in Egypt and those that were allowed to leave the country. Gustave Lefébvre, then inspector of the Antiquities Inspectorate in Asyut, Middle Egypt, where Amarna is located, was responsible for the divisions of the finds and, not trained as Egyptologist, settled for a simple 50/50 division where objects made of plaster would go to the Germans. It seems that Borchardt, already aware of the value of the limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, rushed the division negotiation, listed the figure as “bust of painted plaster of a princess of the royal family” (italics ours), and presented severely cropped photographs of the object to Lefébvre, who let the precious artifact go.

“Suddenly we had the most alive Egyptian artwork in our hands,” Borchardt wrote in his diary, “You cannot describe it with words. You can only see it.”

The bust of Queen Nefertiti was put on exhibit in Berlin’s Egyptian Museum in 1923, eleven years after its discovery. The Egyptian government has since made attempts to have the bust returned, but Germany has so far refused. Even Hitler felt in love with the non arian Egyptian lady, and announced that it would remain in Germany forever.

Nefertiti has been in Germany for nine decades. Visitors come from all over the world to admire her eternal beauty. Hopefully, in the near future, she will return to her homeland and the new Grand Egyptian Museum. Almost a century after the amazing discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, the meaning of her name still holds the promise of her return: “The Beautiful One has Come”.

No drawing plan for the building of Khufu’s pyramid (or any other pyramid for that matter) have survived.

Common sense dictates that ancient Egyptian architects must have prepared a plan much like any modern major building project requires.

Ole J. Bryn, former practicing architect and currently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, has recreated an architectural plan for the Great Pyramid as well as other major pyramids.

Bryn’s theory and plan tackles two important questions: How did the Egyptians know exactly where to put the enormously heavy building blocks? And how was the master architect able to communicate detailed, highly precise plans to a workforce of 10,000 illiterate men?

Ole J. Bryn believes that the Egyptians invented the modern building grid, separating the structure’s measuring system from the physical building itself, thus introducing tolerance, as it is called in today’s engineering and architectural professions.

Five factors are essential for producing a practical building grid: • The grid must provide enough points of measure to be practical. • The numbers in the grid should be divisible, similar, and whole. • The grid should provide a practical way of labeling geographical positions in the building under construction. • A true building grid must have a physical structure rising with it, viz. a core • The grid for a true pyramid must be three-dimensional in order for the apex point to be reached.

The building grid is based on the Royal Cubit (Rc), determined as the forearm of the pharaoh, subdivided into seven palms and further into 4 fingers per palm.

With this system of measurement, the apex of the Great Pyramid of Giza is a point 280 Rc high. The entire building’s purpose was to reach that singular point.

Bryn points out that “7” being a prime number, the core of the Great Pyramid of Giza must consists of 6 equally high (40 Rc) mastabas with the pyramidion as the seventh. If this is correct, as no one has seen the core of Khufu’s pyramid, the location of the Queens Chamber on top of the first mastaba and the King’s Chamber on top of the second mastaba as shown on the right would make perfect sense.

To determine the slope of the pyramid, ancient Egyptians used the “rise and run” method, called “seked”. The seked of the slope of the Great Pyramid of Giza is 5 palms, 2 fingers run, for every one Rc rise. The slope would be specified on the building grid and measured on site with the simple plumb line and string.

At 280 Rc high with a seked of 5 palms and 2 fingers, the baseline of the Great Pyramid of Giza would “run” a total of 440 Rc, a measurement that divided by 7 would not yield a whole number.

Aerial photographs, taken in the 1920s, reveal that Khufu’s Pyramid was not set on a square base. Instead, the center line on each face is set inwards, forming what Bryn denotes a “diamond matrix”.

Ole J. Bryn dismissesarchaeologist John Romer’s six square grid as impractical for construction purposes, but acknowledges its value for the interior layout of the pyramid, claiming the Egyptians subtracted 1 Rc at the center of the baseline to make the distance between this point and the center of the pyramid a number(219) wholly divisible by three (73 Rc).


Perfume was at the centre of aesthetics and therapeutics for both men and women in Ancient Egypt. Although the techniques used are mostly unrecorded, historians look to the literature of Greek and Roman writers and relief paintings and artefacts to determine the production, fashions and uses of perfume in this fascinating era.

The act of making perfume was considered an art form in Ancient Egypt. The craftsperson was considered to be an artist and the profession was open to women as well as men. The perfume making process of extraction can be determined by reliefs on the walls of tombs in Petosiris. These show that perfume making had an overseer, workers who completed the extraction and a professional tester who completed rigorous testing using the sense of smell.

The reliefs also pictorially detail two extraction processes. The first process shown was an ancient mechanical extraction process which was similar to wine production. This required a large bag and two staffs which were used as a press. The second was a form of chemical extraction with the assistance of heat and soaking in alcohol. The processes are early versions of modern perfume extraction techniques that have only really advanced in terms of equipment available and synthetic ingredients.

The reliefs also show red berries poured from a container, which details the nature of the products used to extract different scents. The ingredients used in perfume were usually plant in origin such as henna and cinnamon. The ancient natural philosopher, Pliny the Elder, records floral scents such as iris, bitter almond and lilies in his Natural History as being used in abundance. Myrrh which is a resin from shrubs and other aromatic woods were used. Animal fats such as musk are also recorded as being used in some perfumes. Some Egyptian recipes are still in existence though they are difficult to replicate.

However, the Egyptians had typically exotic tastes, and in addition to home grown essences, they also imported aromatics such as ladanum from Arabia and East Africa, galbanum from Persia, and the coveted frankincense due to unsuccessful attempts to grow it in Egyptian climes. The fact that ingredients were imported even in ancient times shows the importance of perfume. The imported varieties were expensive and initially reserved for the use of the gods or export only.

Excavated reliefs show that from ancient times the blend and quantity of perfume was as important as how long the scent would last. Perfume was a major export material in ancient times with various countries battling to produce the highest quality. Susinum was a particular favourite, and the competitive nature shows that in ancient times, some form of uniformity and standard was expected. Pliny the Elder described an Egyptian perfume that retained its scent after 8 years, and the ancient Greek botanist, Dioscorides, agreed that Egyptian perfume was far superior to that made by other civilisations.

Egyptian perfumes were usually named after the town of production or the main ingredient. Storage was in glass or stone vessels, with alabaster being the most coveted. The decoration was ornate and often bejewelled, with packaging reflecting modern day requirements of functionality and attractiveness. Perfume was burnt as incense, as named in documents from the reign of Thutmose III which detail different varieties such as green incense and white incense. Perfume was worn for aesthetic reasons, in the form of oil based liquid infusions, or wax and fat for creams and salves. This suggests there was also a medicinal purpose recognised.

Perfume was mainly for the elite classes until the golden age. It was used by kings who were believed to be of divine descent as it was believed that the gods favoured perfume. High officials were anointed with perfume when they were appointed to office to call the favour of the gods.

Incense was used to hide the smell of animal sacrifice during ceremonies. Balms were seen as medicinal as perfume was thought to repel demons and win the favour of the gods. Perfume was also an important part of death and burial rites. Bodies were perfumed during mummification as it was believed the soul would visit the gods and so perfume would repel demons. Interestingly, 3300 years after Tutankhamen death, scent could still be detected in his tomb.

Roberto Sedycias IT Consultant for