Monday, May 25, 2015

Cenotaphs go 3D!

overview of the west bank with its 32 shrines

Other than the traditional Egyptologist, who per automatic knows the basics about Gebel el Silsila’s characteristic cenotaphs, anyone who has had the pleasure of sailing the magnificent River Nile could gaze upon these glorious shrines that lay scattered along the west bank to the south of the famous rock-cut temple and ends just north of the capstone. These cenotaphs – ‘false/empty tombs’ – were the object of extensive study by T. G. H. James and R. A. Caminos during an epigraphic survey conducted on behalf of the EES (Egypt Exploration Society) during the last century. James and Caminos published the shrines’ original epigraphy and iconography (hieroglyphic text and illustrations) and short comments on their layouts and style (James, T. G. H. and Caminos, R. A., Gebel es-Silsilah, vol. I: the shrines, London 1963). Since then, A. Kucharek has continued the study in her Master thesis Die Felskapellen der 18. Dynastie in Gebel es-Silsilah, followed by the article ‘Senenmut in Gebel es-Silsilah’ (MDAIK 66, 2010, 413-160).

photo by Scotty Roberts

Still, however, there are many aspects of these 32 shrines that await further study, including later additions (graffiti, quarry activity, reuse, etc.), for which we, as the current archaeological team, have taken on the task to re-document them. As part of this re-documentation more effort is placed on the monuments themselves, and making them available for the larger public also outside the academic world.

As such, we incorporate up-to-date digital technology in our work, such as 3D imaging/photogrammetry, which not only provides us with the most extraordinary ‘movable’ objects, but also the possibility to put fragmented/broken items back again without having to even touch the monument itself. As an example, we would like to share with you a preliminary reconstruction of three broken statues of shrine no. 4 (James and Caminos 1963, 16-18):  

shrine 4

The scanned monument is a room located on the southern side of shrine 4, with three statues that have been broken in three parts due to a fracture in the bedrock, plausibly caused by a natural catastrophe. The room initially measured 1.27 m deep x 1.50 m high. Three statues are seated on a bench, facing forward towards the northern-facing opening/door. The three figures depict two men (left/east and centre) and one woman (right/west). While there are no preserved inscriptions or decoration, it can be presumed that the main male figure depicts a man called Djehutmose, who was a scribe of the treasury during the 18th or early 19th Dynasty (based on an adjacent, plausibly associated hieroglyphic text) (James and Caminos 1963, 16). With the words of Stefan Lindgren, our 3D recorder from the Humanities Laboratory at Lund University: “At some point in time, the mountain where these three statues are carved, split in two parts and divided the group for a long time. But now, thanks to 3d-technology, we have been able to make at least a virtual reunion. I think they look happy about it.”

The southern group of statues

3D recorder Stefan Lindgren busy photographing an early Roman graffiti-panel

For those of you who want to ‘play around’ with the 3D image of the statues, you can find the movable object here, and below is a 'still' demonstration:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

And thank you all our Egyptian friends who work with us in the field!

We could not have done it without you!

Our right hand, Reis, everything (!) Shihad Mohammadin

Abdallah John (Ali) - "son", brother, friend and master chef!

Abdul, chef 2013

Mohamed Mahmoud and Abdallah Ali!

Shihad and baby Freja autumn 2014

what would we do without you guys?!


true humor is a must!


measuring the width of the Roman road - Ahmed Sayed, Prof. James Harrell, John, Mohamed and Mohamed


Ismael (2013)

great friends

...sing and celebrate the birthday of Nanny Sussie!

Abdallah and Sarah!

Support our work and become a member of Friends of Silsila!

A thank you to all our great inspectors and general directors!

Following the relatively new find of the unique stela of Amen-Ra and Thoth, and of course the latest news on the discovery of the temple, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the inspectors who have been assigned to the project so far, and of course to the General Directors of Aswan - Mr. Nasr Salam (and previously Mr. Hakim Karar and Mr. Fathy Abuzied) - and Kom Ombo - Mr. Abd el Menum. We could not have achieved such success without your support and cooperation, and we consider it a true honor working side-by-side with you all.


Mr. Nasr Salama, Abd el Menum, Ahmed Sayed, Mohamed Ali, Khaled Shawky, Hassan Mohamed, Mustafa MohamedMohamed Ahmed, Mohamed Mohsen, Essam el-Deen Mahmoud, Mostafa el-Far, Mohamed Hamdy, Mohamed Hassan,  Mostafa Mohamed, Sayed Mahmoud, Mohamed Ibrahim and Ashraf Mohamed!

Noble visit to Silsila by the Swedish Ambassador, Charlotta Sparre, with husband, and embassy colleague Radoslav Zivkovic, greeted by Aswan General Director Mr. Nasr Salama, and the Kom Ombo Inspectorate represented by General Director Abd el Menum, Ahmed Sayed and Khaled Shawky, and the team members John, Maria and Moamen Saad.

Front figures: General Directors Abd el Menum (left) and Nasr Salama (right)

Great colleague and dear friend, Ahmed Sayed

Mustafa Mohamed, Inspector 2015

Hassan Mohamed, Inspector 2015

Mostafa el-Far, Inspector 2013

John and Ahmed Sayed after the discovery of the cartouche of Ramses II at the temple of Kheny

Mustafa Mohamed and Ashraf Mohamed

Ahmed Sayed

Mohamed Ibrahim (alas Hamada), Inspector 2014

Mohamed Mohsen, Inspector 2013

Mustafa el-Far, Inspector 2013

Essam el-Deen, Inspector 2013

Essam el-Deen

Khaled Shawky, Inspector 2014

General Director of Aswan, Mr. Nasr Salama

Maria (and Carter) with General Director of Kom Ombo, Mr. Abd el Menum

Mr. Nasr Salama in the Main Quarry

Great friends and colleagues in the Main Quarry

Mohamed Hamby, Inspector 2014

part of the team 2014 including ceramic expert Sarah K. Doherty

Mohamed Mohsen

Hassan Mohamed

Essam el-Deen

Mohamed Hassan, Inspector 2014

Ashraf Mohamed, Inspector 2012

Mustafa Mohamed

Mohamed Hamdy

Sayed Mahmoud, Inspector 2014

Mustafa Mohamed, Inspector 2014

Mustafa Mohamed

Mohamed Hassan

Mohamed Ibrahim and Hassan Mohamed

Mr. Nasr Salama greeting Swedish Ambassador Charlotta Sparre

Khaled Shawky

Mohamed Ahmed, Inspector 2013

Mr. Abd el Menum with Egyptologist Dr. Philippe Martinez

Mr. Abd el Menum greeting Swedish Ambassador Charlotta Sparre

Mr. Nasr Salama and Maria

Ahmed Sayed, Khaled Shawky and Abd el Menum

Our General Directors with the lovely and wise Swedish Ambassador 

Maria and Ahmed Sayed

Abd el Menum with Charlotta Sparre in the speos

Join the Friends of Silsila!