Posts Tagged With: pharaohs

Archaeologists Uncover Rare Leather Fragments from Ancient Egyptian Chariot

Nearly 300 leather fragments from an ancient Egyptian chariot, believed to date back to the New Kingdom, have been recently uncovered from the depths of the Egyptian Museum by a team of renowned archaeologists. Studying the technology and resources utilized in the building of such chariots, the team aims to reconstruct an ancient Egyptian royal chariot in 2014, using the same technology as that used by the ancient Egyptians.

Salima Ikram and Andre Veldmeijer retrieve extraordinary leather fragments of an ancient chariot from abandoned casings at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo Photo: The American University in Cairo

Salima Ikram and Andre Veldmeijer retrieve extraordinary leather fragments of an ancient chariot from abandoned casings at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
Photo: The American University in Cairo

“The discovery of such leather fragments is extremely rare and unusual,” said Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology, who is among the team of archaeologists working to unravel the mysteries behind these recently uncovered leather portions. “Only a handful of complete chariots are known from ancient Egypt, and of these, only one heavily restored in Florence, and that of Yuya and Tjuiu in the Egyptian Museum, have any significant amount of leather. Even then, they are largely unembellished and not as well-preserved as the fragments we found.”

Although horse-drawn chariots are often illustrated in ancient Egyptian artwork, archaeological evidence that goes beyond wooden frames is scarce. Due to their organic nature, leather fragments seldom survive. “The pieces were in a much better shape than we originally anticipated, and we were able to achieve a sense of how the leather unfolds,” said Ikram. “The fine condition that the leather was in suggests that it may have been preserved in a tomb. Leather finds from urban contexts such as Amarna, although still relatively good compared to those from many sites elsewhere in the world, usually show signs of disintegration, are brittle and, overall, in far worse condition.”

In constructing an exact replica of the chariot, Ikram and the team aim to gain an understanding of the construction technology and the leather used in its fabrication, as well as to test hypotheses about the uses of the different pieces of leather, which may prove to be a challenging endeavor. “Some leather pieces are folded over in a crumpled state, and the reconstruction of certain portions while trying to maintain accuracy in reproducing the technologies used might be more difficult than we anticipate,” said Ikram.

Back in 2008, Ikram commenced work with Andre Veldmeijer, head of the Egyptology section at the Netherlands Flemish Institute in Cairo, on the Ancient Egypt Leatherwork Project, when they came across a 1950s publication by Robert Jacobus Forbes titled Studies in Ancient Technology. The manuscript spoke of a black and white photograph of ancient trappings and horse harnesses, evidently intact and said to exist at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Intrigued by Forbes’s findings, Ikram and Veldmeijer sought the help of museum curators to locate a cache of leather trays pertaining to an Egyptian chariot, including parts of the bow-case.

Ikram and Veldmeijer sought to document, examine and conduct analytical studies of the technology and resources utilized. They categorized the leather into two main groups based on color and sturdiness: red and green fine leather, and beige and green robust leather. Some of the uncovered leather pieces were highly decorated with leather appliqué work, while others were plainer. The leather fragments have been numbered and described, and include nave hoops, neck straps, gauntlets and parts of the bow-case. The remnants evidently comprised all parts of the chariot. “Everything we saw about the chariot leather was new,” affirmed Ikram. “It presented a revelation on how the chariot was put together, the technologies and materials used. Our examinations also disclosed how drawstrings served as the means of securing leather components over the skeleton of the chariot.”

By closely examining the findings, Ikram hopes to be able to better situate them within the backdrop of Egyptian chariotry. The Egyptian Museum Chariot Project findings fit in with a larger multidisciplinary and holistic research venture on leatherwork in ancient Egypt, which also includes the study of other fragmentary chariot pieces, such as those originating from the tombs of Thutmose IV (Carter and Newberry, 1904), Amenhotep II (Daressy, 1902) and Amenhotep III (Littauer and Crouwel, 1985, 1968 and 1987), as well as the leather finds from the Amarna period (Veldmeijer, 2010). This larger project is directed by Veldmeijer and Ikram.

“Chariots changed the way people looked at terrains and the way they interacted with them,” said Ikram. “Before the chariot, transportation means in ancient Egypt were limited to boats, donkeys and walking. It introduced the notion of roadways for faster wheel conveyance, revolutionizing the way Egyptians moved through the landscape and pioneering means of transportation and warfare.”

Aside from peaceable pursuits, the chariot was closely linked to the military, providing a moving platform from which the archer could shoot at the enemy. Hunting is also repeatedly depicted as a favorite sport of Egyptian royalty and nobility, and both are frequently represented pursuing desert games while riding in their chariots. Chariot processional scenes are believed to be popular from the 18th Dynasty onward, where the triumphant pharaoh is often shown to be returning alone from the battlefield.

From ancient eras to contemporary times, Ikram believes that chariots denoted one of the earliest personal transport concepts known to mankind. “The chariot is the precursor to the car,” she said. “The ancient Egyptians used it in the same way in which early motorized vehicles were used by us.”

Source of article: The American University in Cairo’s newsletter news@auc 
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Categories: Egypt, Pharaonic Egypt, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Luxor on a shoe string

The small non-star family-run hotels of old Gurna in Luxor in Upper Egypt have always been the choice of travellers, mostly those on a tight budget, who like to spend an untraditional vacation in the midst of the Theban necropolis surrounded by authentic rural life, lush green fields and mountains.

Old Gurna on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor

Old Gurna on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor

Thousands of travellers cross the Nile in Luxor every day from the east bank to the west, wandering around the temples and tombs of the Theban necropolis. After finishing their tour, the majority return back to the east. For those who opt to stay, however, their only choice has been to book a room in one of these hotels scattered around the village.

Most of them are clean, run by locals and are located adjacent to the ancient sites. Some have air-conditioned rooms, others have ceiling fans or have both, some have rooms with separate bathrooms, others have shared ones, some have TV’s and washing machines and others have not.

Marsam Hotel, founded by Sheikh Ali Abdel-Rasoul, who was a member of the clan who helped discover the Tomb of Seti I, tops the list of options. Situated in Gurna village itself, the hotel is situated directly beside the temple of Merenptah. It has a significant history. In 1920, the hotel was the site of the prestigious Chicago House, where American researchers did their studies and practical work.

Sheikh Ali Abdel RasoulPhoto: Al Marsam Hotel

Sheikh Ali Abdel Rasoul
Photo: Al Marsam Hotel

When the Chicago House was moved to the city of Luxor, Sheikh Ali took over the whole area, including the building of the Chicago House- which turned to Al Marsam, a meeting point for artists, Egyptologists, and tourists from all over the world, where they discussed, exchanged their experiences in calm atmosphere and nice surrounding.

The hotel started with only ten simple rooms in the old Chicago building. But over the decades, Sheikh Ali’s place became so famous and demanded that he had to increase the number of rooms. In 1970, he built a new guesthouse with thick walls of mud bricks, small windows and domed ceiling, following the style of late Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi. This construction style keeps the rooms cool in summer and warm in winter.

Marsam facadePhoto: Al Marsam Hotel

Marsam facade
Photo: Al Marsam Hotel

Al Marsam is the oldest in the west bank area. It currently has 30 simple furnished rooms and a beautiful garden with seats in the shadow at the center of the hotel complex.

Most archaeological sites on the west bank of the Nile are within a walking distance from the hotel, except for the Valley of kings. The hotel can arrange excursions by bicycles, donkeys, horses, camels and cars to the ancient sites.

Al Marsam GardenPhoto: Al Marsam Hotel

Al Marsam Garden
Photo: Al Marsam Hotel

Double rooms without private bathroom are for LE100 per night, single rooms are for LE50 per person per night; double rooms with private bathroom are for LE150 per night, single rooms are for LE75 per person per night. Rates are inclusive of taxes. Accommodation is based on bed and breakfast basis.

A bedroom in Al MarsamPhoto: Al Marsam Hotel

A bedroom in Al Marsam
Photo: Al Marsam Hotel

For more information, visit http://www.luxor-westbank.com/marsam_e.htm

Al-Gezirah Village, only few miles from the dock of the ferry in the west, accommodates a number of small hotels such as Amoun El- Gezirah Hotel, Al-Gezirah and Al-Gezirah Gardens.

Built in 1996, El-Gezirah Hotel is a family business that includes 11 air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant, a terrace, a roof garden overlooking the river Nile. Situated near the village of Gezirat El-Beirat, on an old branch of the Nile, guests would experience the traditional Egyptian village life.

Facade of Al Gezirah HotelPhoto: Al Gezirah Hotel

Facade of Al Gezirah Hotel
Photo: Al Gezirah Hotel

Most archaeological sites on the west bank of the Nile are accessible from the hotel. Museums and temples of the east bank of the Nile are also accessible by ferries and motorboats.

Besides sightseeing, guests can enjoy visiting the local vegetable gardens and sugar cane fields. They can also go on donkey excursions, motorboat or felucca trips.

View from TerracePhoto: Al Gezirah Hotel

View from Terrace
Photo: Al Gezirah Hotel

All rooms are located on the ground and second floors. They are equipped with a private bathroom, shower or tub and air-conditioning.

Single rooms are for LE100 per night;  double rooms are for LE75 per person per room per night; triple room is for LE70 per person per night. Accommodation is based on bed and breakfast.

Rooms at Al Gezirah HotelPhoto: Al Gezirah Hotel

Rooms at Al Gezirah Hotel
Photo: Al Gezirah Hotel

For more information, visit http://www.el-gezira.com/E/hotel.htm

If you look for a more sophisticated vacation, then the sister hotel Al-Gezirah Garden, adjacent to El Gezirah Hotel, is the place.

El-Gezirah Garden consists of 8 apartments and 18 double rooms. Each apartment on the upper floor consists of two rooms, a kitchen and a large bathroom. The apartments on the ground floor have two bathrooms and no kitchen. The apartment can accommodate four adults, or two adults and two children. All apartments and rooms are equipped with satellite TV, telephone and air-condition.

The garden at the hotelPhoto: Al Gezirah Gardens Hotel

The garden at the hotel
Photo: Al Gezirah Gardens Hotel

For entertainment, the hotel has a garden, a swimming pool and billiard facility.

Rates for an apartment is 60 Euros per day, including breakfast and taxes; a double room for two persons is for 35 Euros and 25 Euros for one person with breakfast.

A double room at the hotelPhoto: Al Gezirah Gardens Hotel

A double room at the hotel
Photo: Al Gezirah Gardens Hotel

For more information, visit http://www.el-gezira.com/E/garden.htm

At the edge of the desert behind the ticket office in Medinat Habu, lies Pharaohs Hotel. Opened in 1984, the hotel has 20 double rooms, 10 triple rooms, all with private bath room and air condition. No telephone, television or radio are available in the rooms.

Mortuary Temple of Ramsis III in Medinat Habu

Mortuary Temple of Ramsis III in Medinat Habu

The hotel has an indoor and an outdoor restaurant, large garden terrace, reading corners and a billiard table. The sun beds at the spacious roof terrace invite guests not only for a sun bath, but also for a magnificent view up to the mountains, to the Habu Temple, the second largest temple after Karnak, and over the agricultural land to the Colossi of Memnon. During the excavation season in the winter months the hotel frequently is booked by international archaeologists. Therefore it also is called by the ancient name Per Äao (big house) from which the word pharaoh was adapted.

Travellers would find all kinds of entertainment at Pharaohs HotelPhotos: Pharaoh Hotel

Travellers would find all kinds of entertainment at Pharaohs Hotel
Photos: Pharaoh Hotel

Single rooms are for 18 Euros per night and double rooms are for 23 Euros per night. Rooms at the roof are a bit more expensive. Single rooms are for 26 Euros per night and double rooms are for 32 Euros per night. Accommodation is based on bed and breakfast.

For more information, visit http://www.luxor-westbank.com/pharaohs_e.htm

Whatever your budget and whichever your choice, if you opt to reside on the west bank and experience its riches, you will most definitely be residing in a hotel in a class of its own.

Categories: Egypt, Hotels, Uncategorized, Upper Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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