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BITS and PIECES
News and views from the world of Egyptology
The Great Pyramid of ... Germany German entrepreneurs are planning to build the world’s largest pyramid on a derelict site at Dessau in Eastern Germany. The idea is that the pyramid will be a burial site and will hold the remains of millions of people in concrete burial blocks. The plan is for a pyramid around sixty feet taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza, which is four hundred and thirty-two feet high. The developers explained, “In future the chance to be buried in a pyramid will be open to all ... . Our great pyramid will be the first internationally advertised burial and remembrance site to link the peoples, religions and cultures of the world.” The burials will be in one cubic metre-sized concrete blocks. Each block will contain an urn holding the ashes of the deceased and will bear an inscription in his or her memory. The pyramid is expected to grow gradually over a period of up to thirty years as concrete blocks are added to the structure. A number of customer enquiries have already been made. Interestingly, this modern idea for a pyramid is not new. A similar plan was devised, but never executed, for a mass-burial pyramid to be built in London in the nineteenth century.
?Found in Tutankhamun’s tomb There has been much in the Egyptological news about the ‘discovery’ in the Valley of the Kings of around twenty intact clay pots sealed with the cartouche of Tutankhamun. The discovery was actually made in the Treasury of Tutankhamun’s tomb, a room that has been sealed and clearly not entered by anyone, if not since the 1930s, then certainly not in recent years. Also found in the Treasury were some baskets containing large numbers of domfruit. Some reports have implied that these items had been overlooked by Howard Carter when he cleared the tomb. This is certainly not the case, but Carter did not remove everything to Cairo. Clearly there were many items that were duplicated and others that were not considered suitable for, or worthy of, display. The tomb of Sennofer, for example, still contains many objects from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including the black shrines that once housed the gilded images of the gods (though these may have been moved recently to a newer, secure storage facility). What was, and is, important, is that these objects have been preserved and not that they have been rediscovered; they can now perhaps be examined, using tech
niques not available to Howard Carter. Lying untouched, they should still be in excellent condition and can hopefully tell us more about the burial of the king.
Tutankhamun was not black The Tutankhamun exhibition in the United States saw record attendances, but not everyone was happy with the display. One of the main criticisms, and one made loudly and in several demonstrations, was that the exhibition failed to recognize that Tutankhamun was black. The ancient Egyptians were very particular about how they depicted skin colours and this can clearly be seen when their artists made the distinction between Egyptians and Nubians, or the people they traded with from the far south towards the centre of Africa. At a lecture in the United States, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities insisted that Tutankhamun was not black. “Tutankhamun was not black, and the portrayal of ancient Egyptian civilisation as black has no element of truth to it,” Dr. Hawass told reporters. “Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa.” Dr. Hawass was responding to several demonstrations in Philadelphia after a lecture he gave there in September. Protestors claimed images of Tutankhamun were altered to show him with lighter skin at the exhibition. There were similar problems during an earlier stage of the tour in Los Angeles, when activists demanded that a reconstructed portrait of the king be removed because it portrays him as white. Hopefully the London exhibition will not see similar protests.
Tutankhamun’s mummy on display Amid much media publicity, the mummy of Tutankhamun was recently removed from the outer coffin and sarcophagus, and placed on display in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, allowing visitors to see his face for the first time. The mummy is now in a special climate-controlled glass case in the tomb and the body is covered with linen, only the head being visible. “You will enter the tomb and see for the first time the face of Tutankhamun ... . This is the first time in history that anyone will see the mummy [in public]. This will continue the magic of Tutankhamun,” Dr. Hawass said. Whilst many objects from the tomb have toured the world, and the rest are on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the mummified body of the king has