Saturday, May 26, 2007


An International Conference in Memory of William D.E. Coulson


Volos, 14-17 June 2007, Kordatos Amphitheatre


Friday, May 25, 2007

Some more excavation websites

Arediou-Vouppes, Cyprus

Patara, Turkey

Ancient wine-presses found on Greek island

Source: Middle East Times

Greek archaeologists have discovered a complex of ancient farmhouses and large wine-presses on the northern Aegean island of Thassos dating from before the Roman period until late Byzantine times, the culture ministry said Wednesday.

Built with walls of stone over a meter (three feet) high and lined with plaster, the wine-presses were found clustered on a mountain near the coastal village of Limenaria, at an altitude of 500 meters.

The remains of enclosures suggest the presence of large estates that shared the use of the wine-presses, the ministry said.

Though apparently inhabited mainly during the grape harvest, the site was in use from the Hellenistic period that followed the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC onwards.

The local archaeological department has been researching the Thassos site for the past two years.

Also Wednesday, the ministry said that another archaeological team found the remains of a rural shrine to presumed fertility deities near the town of Orchomenos in central Greece.

The shrine had sustained damage in the construction of an irrigation canal in the 1950s, but the archaeologists found thousands of votive offerings, including miniature vessels, animal idols, scarabs, and lamps.

They also found rare clay replicas of flowers entwined with ears of corn, representing gifts left by faithful visiting the shrine.

In ancient times, citizens of Orchomenos are known to have worshipped the Three Graces, daughters of Zeus said to represent beauty, charm, and joy but also associated with bloom.

Clay pots found at ancient Greece shrine

Source: AP via Yahoo! News

Archaeologists in central Greece have discovered thousands of miniature clay pots and statuettes in the ruins of an ancient sanctuary possibly dedicated to the Three Graces, officials said on Wednesday.

In volume, it is one of the richest finds in recent years.

Excavations near Orchomenos, 80 miles northwest of Athens, revealed sparse remains of retaining walls from a small rural shrine, a Culture Ministry statement said.

But a rock-carved shaft was found to contain thousands of pottery offerings, dating from the early 5th century B.C. until at least the 3rd century B.C, the statement said.

The finds included miniature pots, clay figurines of women and animals, as well as clay busts and lamps.

"The identity of the deities worshipped there is not yet clear, but it is certain that they were goddesses associated with plant growth and fertility," the ministry statement said.

It said a famous sanctuary of the Three Graces — deities of growth and beauty — was known to have stood in ancient Orchomenos, and one of the offerings was inscribed with the name of Eurynome, mother of the Graces.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Roman ring handed back to Turkey

Source: BBC News

An historic Roman ring which was illegally imported into the UK from Turkey has been returned.

The iron and silver band, which dates back to between AD 161 and AD 169, is thought to have been taken from an archaeological dig at Ephesus, Turkey.

It was eventually seized by HM Revenue and Customs after it was taken to Derby Museum for a valuation.

The ring was handed over to Turkish Embassy officials at East Midlands Airport on Tuesday.

The find has a gemstone engraving of Lucius Versus - co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius.

It was seized by customs officials after it was taken from Derby to the British Museum. No one has been prosecuted for stealing the ring.

'Significant problem'

Sermin Ozduran, from the Turkish Embassy, who collected the ring on behalf of the Turkish government, said it was "an important piece" of Turkish history.

John Macmillan, detection manager for HM Revenue & Customs, said: "We are delighted to be able to return this important historical ring to the Turkish Government.

"The international trade in illicit cultural artefacts is a significant problem and increasingly being linked to other forms of organised crime.

"We will continue to place a high priority to stop those attempting to bring historical artefacts into the UK illegally and restore seized cultural objects to their rightful owners."

The ring will be sent to Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism and later be displayed in a museum in the country.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Roman Woman Had Golden Smile

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

The earliest known dental prosthesis from ancient Rome may not have been very functional, but it gave its wealthy wearer a million dollar smile.

The gleaming grin resulted from multi-karat gold wire, which was used to string together "artificial teeth," according to the team of Italian researchers who analyzed the ancient bridgework.

They found the object, which dates from the 1st to the 2nd century A.D., in the mouth of an unidentified woman who was buried in an elaborate mausoleum within a Roman necropolis.

"At the moment, this dental prosthesis is the only archaeological remain that corresponds to the literary descriptions (concerning dentistry) of the Roman Age," lead scientist Simona Minozzi told Discovery News.

Minozzi, an anthropologist at the University of Pisa, and her team quoted from the writings of 1st century Roman satirist Martial.

Martial wrote, "Lucania has white teeth, Thais brown. How comes it? One has false teeth, one her own. And you, Galla, lay aside your teeth at night just as you do your silken dress."

Minozzi believes the unidentified Roman's bridgework was made from the woman's own teeth that probably fell out due to periodontal disease. Gold wire bound the teeth together, with some teeth possessing drill holes to strengthen the wire bond. More gold wire secured the replaced tooth to side teeth that remained in her jaw.

The discovery is outlined in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ancient Bulgarian Sanctuaries "Older" than Egyptian Pyramids

Source: Novinite

Bulgarian scientist will try to prove their hypothesis that the rock sanctuaries of Tatul and Perperikon in the Eastern Rhodopi Mountains are more ancient than Egyptian pyramids.

To prove their hypothesis, the scientists will organize the biggest archaeology expedition in the country that will be situated near the southern town of Kardzhali. The top Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov will lead the expedition.

The hypothesis of the rock sanctuaries' age was voiced some months ago by two Bulgarian historians. According to them the first cuts in the rocks there date back to the fifth millennium BC.

The archaeologists will seek evidence in the Orpheus sanctuary near Tatul, where previous expeditions have already uncovered a cultural layer date back to 20 century BC.

The excavations near Kardzhali will start on May 28 and will continue around 5 months. This daring initiative will cost more than BGN 200 000.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How geology came to help Alexander the Great

Source: Nature

A natural sand-bridge made his defeat of Tyre easier.

Ned Stafford

Historians need not be quite so impressed by Alexander the Great's defeat of the island of Tyre in 332BC. Geological studies of the region show that Alexander's army had help reaching the island, in the form of a natural land-bridge lying just a metre or two below the water's surface.

Alexander the Great was just 23 years old when he stood on the coast of what is now Lebanon, gazing offshore at the tiny Phoenician island city of Tyre, a powerful commercial centre. Alexander knew that Tyre had to be seized before he could safely move south to Egypt and then turn inland to conquer the Persian Empire.

In a determined attack, Alexander's engineers used timber and ruins from the old centre of Tyre on the coast to build a 1-kilometre-long 'mole', or causeway, to the island. Months later, his army broke through the fortress walls and brutally crushed Tyre.

Nick Marriner of the European Centre for Research and Teaching on the Geosciences and the Environment (CEREGE) in Aix-en-Provence, France, says that historians and archaeologists had previously relied on ancient texts and illustrations, along with aerial photographs of the region today, to work out how this causeway was built and how difficult it was to do. "These theories were not backed by any hard data," he says.

"Before our work, archaeologists had no idea of the depth of water between Tyre and the mainland," says Marriner. Others have described the waters as "shallow", with some references saying it was perhaps 5 or 6 metres deep.

Digging deep

To investigate, Marriner's PhD supervisor Christophe Morhange, also of the CEREGE, went to Tyre in 2002. His team drilled more than 20 cores on the now urbanized isthmus that today connects the mainland with the former island of Tyre, as well as other scattered nearby locations. The cores contained sediments from as far back as 8,000 years ago. Diving surveys were done by Lebanese archaeologists.

Back in the lab, the team performed analyses of the types of sediment and tiny fossils within the cores, to learn more about the ancient near-shore marine environment; fine-grained sediments and the remains of creatures that prefer to live in sheltered environments show up when and where waters were once calm. Wave modelling and previous studies of the area helped to complete the picture.

An elongated region of sandstone reefs acted as a 6-kilometre natural breakwater in the area 8,000 years ago. By 6,000 years ago, rises in sea level had reduced the length of the island from 6 to 4 kilometres. This, combined with an increase of sediment supply due to agricultural activity and a rise in inland rainfall, particularly after about 3,000 years ago, created a natural sandbar that sat an average of 1-2 metres below mean sea level in Alexander's time, they report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

Sediment build-up

The idea that a natural sand-bridge came to Alexander's aid has been proposed before2.

Marriner's work highlights how the natural causeway started to grow faster sometime before Alexander arrived, and accelerated again after Alexander's construction blocked sediment transport in the area. This latter point is hardly surprising, says Liviu Giosan, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "Any coastal engineer could tell you about sedimentation around dikes," he says.

Marriner adds that their study should help archaeologists to pick sites in the area for further investigation. "We can use the geological record as an aid to understanding the evolution of the coastline, and identify areas of potentially rich archaeology," he says.


1. Marriner N., Morhange C. & Meulé S. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA, doi:10.1073.pnas.0611325104 (2007).
2. Nir Y., et al. Geoarchaeology, 11 . 235 - 250 (1996).

Friday, May 11, 2007

French theory on Pyramids building refuted

Source: Egypt State Information Service

Egyptian, US and German experts have refuted French archaeologist Jean-Pierre Houdin's theory about how the Pyramids were built, said Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawwas.

In statements on Wednesday 9/5/2007, Hawwas said the experts believe Jean-Pierre Houdin's theory lacks scientific and practical bases.

Hawwas said he met with two German and US archaeologists over Houdin's theory.

The archaeologists stressed that the theory lacked the scientific bases and only relied on inaccurate grounds, he added.

‘Athens-Sparta’ exhibition to leave NYC for Peloponnese

Source: ekathimerini

The exhibition “Athens-Sparta: From the 8th to the 5th Centuries BC,” which was on display a few months ago at New York’s Alexander Onassis Foundation, was highly successful. Now the Greek public will also have a chance to see it, as the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) recently approved its transfer to Sparta’s Olive and Oil Museum. The exhibition will open in mid-July and run to mid-September.

The joint collaboration between the Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation, the National Archaeological Museum and the Fifth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities will coincide with the opening of a new hall in the museum.

The exhibition aims at exploring the cultural, political and economic history of the two most important ancient Greek city states. More than 200 works of art, including sculptures, vases, coins and much more, testify to the originality and skill of the ancient Athenians and Spartans. The items on display date from the Late Geometric period (recording the beginnings of the city state), then through the 5th-century-BC Persian Wars and go up until the end of the Peloponnesian War, in 404 BC.

A marble bust of Leonidas, a bronze sculpture of the goddess Athena, inscriptions and bronze spearheads are only some of the finds that are to go on display at the Sparta museum.

There will be works on loan from the National Archaeological Museum, the Sparta Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum, the Numismatic, the Epigraphy and the Marathon museums, while items that were on display in New York on loan from museums abroad will not be shown.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Greek archaeologists discover rare example of 2,700-year-old weaving

Source: International Herald Tribune

ATHENS, Greece: Archaeologists in Greece have recovered a rare section of 2,700-year old fabric from a burial imitating heroes' funerals described by the poet Homer, officials said Wednesday.

The yellowed, brittle material was found in a copper urn during a rescue excavation in the southern town of Argos, a Culture Ministry announcement said.

"This is an extremely rare find, as fabric is an organic material which decomposes very easily," said archaeologist Alkistis Papadimitriou, who headed the dig. She said only a handful of such artifacts have been found in Greece.

The cylindrical urn also contained dried pomegranates — offerings linked with the ancient gods of the underworld — along with ashes and charred human bones from an early 7th century B.C. cremation.

Papadimitriou said the material was preserved for nearly 3,000 years by the corroding copper urn. "Copper oxides killed the microbes which normally destroy fabric," she told The Associated Press

Conservation experts from Athens will work on the fragile find.

"Our first concern is to save it," Papadimitriou said. "Afterward, it will undergo laboratory tests to tell us about the precise fabric and weaving techniques."

The burial was the only cremation from half a dozen closely grouped graves found on the plot, which was scheduled for development.

"Cremation was very unusual in Argos, and this too makes it a special find," Papadimitriou said. "In my opinion, an affluent citizen may have wanted to imitate a funerary custom described by Homer to stand out among his peers buried next by — who were not cremated."

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey enjoyed huge popularity throughout Greece. Composed during the 8th century B.C, and thought to be inspired by a war four centuries older, the Iliad describes slain heroes being cremated in elaborate funerals, which fell out of fashion in later times.

Modern Argos in the northern Peloponnese, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Athens, is built on top of one of the most famous cities of ancient Greece. Also named Argos, the ancient city was mentioned by Homer as the seat of a Mycenaean hero-king who fought with the Greek army in Troy. It flourished throughout antiquity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Excavations to start in July in Ancient City of Zeugma

Source: Turkish Daily News

Archaeological excavations will start on July 15th in the ancient city of Zeugma. Associate Prof. Kutalmis Gorkay of the Ankara University Department of Archaeology, who leads the excavations in the ancient city, said on Thursday that a 60-member team including 4 foreigners would participate in this year's excavations between July 15 and October 20.

During this year's excavations, Danae and Dionysos temples will be renovated, along with excavations in the Agora, he said, with findings to be displayed in the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum. "So far, we could unearth only 10 percent of the artifacts. The remaining 90 percent has still been under earth," he said in an interview with the Anatolia news agency. Gorkay said they aimed at making the ancient site an "archaeo-park."

Zeugma, an ancient city of Commagene, was unearthed in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. The ancient city was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 B.C. King Seleucus almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. The population in the city was approximately 80,000.

In 64 B.C., Zeugma was conquered and ruled by the Roman Empire. With this shift, the name of the city was changed into Zeugma, meaning "bridge-passage" or "bridge of boats." During the Roman rule, the city became a regional attraction thanks to its commercial potential originating from a geo-strategic location: the city was on the Silk Road connecting Antakya to China with a quay or pontoon bridge across the Firat River (Euphrates.) The ancient city was first discovered during archaeological excavations in 1987. Unique mosaics have been unearthed in the city so far.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Historically Important Greek Stele Inscriptions Unveiled

Source: The Epoch Times

Israel Museum Presentation Marks First Public Display of "Heliodorus Stele"

The Israel Museum unveiled a unique 2,200-year-old stele (inscribed stone block) on May 3 that provides new insight into the dramatic story of Heliodorus and the Temple in Jerusalem, as related in the Second Book of Maccabees.

"The Heliodorus stele is one of the most important and revealing Hellenistic inscriptions from Israel," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

"It contextualizes the Second Book of Maccabees and provides an independent and authentic source for an important episode in the history leading up to the Maccabean Revolt, whose victorious conclusion is celebrated each year during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah."

Heliodorus Stele Suggests New Perspectives on Israeli History

The newly deciphered stele presents new information about Heliodorus, who, according to the Second Book of Maccabees, received orders to seize the treasure in the Temple in Jerusalem, but was driven from the sanctuary by the miraculous appearance of a fearsome horseman accompanied by two mighty youths.

This presentation marks the first public display of the Heliodorus stele, which is on extended loan to the Museum from Michael and Judy Steinhardt of New York. The stele documents a correspondence in ancient Greek between Heliodorus and King Seleucus IV, ruler of the Seleucid Empire from 187 to 175 BCE, who was succeeded by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (best known from the story of Hanukkah). In his letter, King Seleucus announces the appointment of an administrator to oversee the sanctuaries within the province that included the Land of Israel.

The appointment of an overseer of the sanctuaries - including the Temple in Jerusalem—was intended to bring the province into line with the rest of the Seleucid Empire. This position included authority over the sanctuaries' revenues and, above all, taxes due to the king. It is likely, however, that the Jews regarded this appointment as an infringement of Jewish religious autonomy.

This episode may have foreshadowed events yet to come. Less than ten years later (169/8 BCE), a new Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and his armies would enter Jerusalem, massacre its inhabitants, rob the Temple treasury, and desecrate the Holy of Holies. Thus the new appointment, recorded on the stele, appears to mark the beginning of Greek/Seleucid interference in Jewish religious affairs, which eventually led to the outbreak of the Maccabean revolt in 167 BCE.

Israel Museum Opens Historical Stele Display

The Heliodorus stele is part of a special display, curated by David Mevorah, Curator of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Archaeology, entitled "Royal Correspondence on Stone—The Overseer of the Sanctuaries." On view through June 2007, this presentation also includes another Hellenistic stele from the royal administration of the Seleucid Empire—the Hefzibah stele—part of the Museum's permanent archaeological holdings.

The writings on the Heliodorus stele have been deciphered and interpreted by Professor Hannah Cotton-Paltiel of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Michael Woerrle of the Commission for Ancient History and Epigraphy at the German Archaeological Institute in Munich. Analysis of the stone's patina by Professor Yuvel Goren of Tel Aviv University suggests that the stele most likely came from the lowlands between the Judaean hills and the Mediterranean coast.

New Research on Historical Significance of the Heliodorus Stele

The Heliodorus stele preserves three missives from the royal administration of King Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE). The earliest and most significant of the three letters is from King Seleucus IV to Heliodorus, of which only the preamble remains.

In it, the King announces the appointment of an administrator to oversee the sanctuaries within the Seleucid province of Koile-Syria and Phoinike, including the Land of Israel. The other two, dating from the late summer 178 BCE, are shorter notes transmitting the directives of the King from Heliodorus to his subordinates.

By this appointment, the King intended to bring the province of Koile-Syria and Phoinike into line with the other regions in the empire. The appointment of a new overseer would help ensure royal control over the sanctuaries and their revenues. The opportunity for this new appointment was necessitated by the death or dismissal of a former governor, who had also served as chief priest in the province and presumably controlled the revenues of its sanctuaries.

Correspondence between the previous governor and Antiochus III, the father of King Seleucus IV, is preserved on the Hefzibah stele, also included in the current installation, which went on display in the Israel Museum following its discovery in northern Israel in the 1960s.

The complete findings of Cotton-Paltiel, Woerrle, and Goren have recently been published in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, the leading international journal for the publication of documents from classical antiquity.

Enjoy the show, with no heels

Hellenic Festival to raise public awareness in effort to prevent more damage to Herod Atticus Theater

By Iota Sykka - Kathimerini

There’s a new motto in Athens this summer: No more high heels at the Herod Atticus Theater. Women might make up the bulk of audiences, purchasing most tickets for cultural events, but it turns out that they are also responsible for a number of problems at this particular venue.

Though there has been talk about prohibiting them in the past, high heels continue to cause damage to the ancient theater. This year however, women wishing to try their acrobatic skills on 10-centimeter spikes by walking up or down the theater’s narrow steps will be requested to change their habits.

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has decided to take a number of measures and the Hellenic Festival has been asked to raise public awareness by informing the public through its program, advertising material and tickets.

But the problem is not only high heels. Archaeologists back up their arguments that chewing gum is equally guilty by pointing to last year’s collection of 27 kilos of gum, mainly from the upper tier.

Apart from prohibiting the use of mobile phones, the making of illegal recordings, smoking and the consumption of food and soft drinks, the pre-recorded list featuring the voice of Alexis Kostalas will now include the two latest enemies – high heels and chewing gum.

KAS did not decide on more radical measures, given that the focus of efforts will be on educating the public. There was talk, however, about excessively high decibel levels, the setting up and dismantling of stage props, nails hammered by technicians into ancient parts of the theater and refuse clogging manholes.

A few years ago, archaeologist Alexandros Mantis found himself experiencing a true nightmare, when the ancient theater flooded at the same time that Prince Charles was being shown around the Acropolis by Evangelos Venizelos, then minister of culture. From now on, a representative of the Culture Ministry’s department of ancient monuments will be present when stage sets and props are erected or dismantled.

However, the sheer volume of stage sets remains an issue. Suffice it to note that the National Greek Opera’s opening production of this year’s Athens Festival, “Carmen,” includes a car.

More issues

Other longstanding issues still to be resolved include the Hellenic Festival’s debt to the Archaeological Resources and Expropriation Fund, with respect to the fees paid by those performing at the ancient monument. This year’s fees have been set at 2,000 euros per performance and 500 euros for each rehearsal. The problem, however, is the outstanding debt of 814,022 euros up to last year.

While a ban on high heels may prove to be inevitable, all this talk simply illustrates the ministry’s inability to effectively manage its affairs. This may be even truer now that the Hellenic Festival has been placed under its supervision.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sassanid Aristocracy House Discovered in Kermanshah

Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency

By Soudabeh Sadigh

Tehran, 5 May 2007 (CHN Foreign Desk) – Archeologists have succeeded in identifying an aristocracy residential settlement dating back to Sassanid dynastic era (224-651 AD) during their excavations in Sarab-e Mourt, located in Iranian western province of Kermanshah.

“This unique aristocracy house belonging to Sassanian dynastic era was consisted of two parts including private section and formal section. The formal section was consisted of a ceremonial vaulted hall. This squared hall was surrounded with 2 in 5 meters corridor which was led into some units, most probably official chambers,” said Yousof Moradi, archeologist of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Kermanshah province and head of excavation team in Sarab-e Mourt.

Existence of plasters in the ceremonial hall indicate that the walls of this Sassanid house were most probably covered with stucco decorations which have been destroyed
over time. Moradi further explained that the big yards in official section were covered with bricks, parts of which have been discovered.

According to Moradi, this Sassanid residential house must have covered an area about 5000 square meters, 2500 meters of which have been excavated so far.

Regarding the usage of this historic building in the course of history, Moradi explained: “Evidence shows that this residency house stayed in use even after Muslim conquest and during early Islamic period. Then it was destroyed and abandoned until Seljuk era (1037-1187 AD) when the remained parts of the monument came into use once again as a summer dwelling. This building was also use during Ilkhanid era (1256-1336 AD) by nomads.”

Further archeological excavations revealed that this residency area was later turned into a cemetery and archeologists have succeeded in unearthing a number of graves in the area.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Scan of mummified child done in Pa.

Source: The Associated Press through Contra Costa Times

PITTSBURGH- A CT scan of an ancient Egyptian mummy revealed a spearlike object in the upper spine and skull, but scientists say they don't know whether that's what killed the child.

The scan, done Wednesday at a Pittsburgh hospital, also revealed that the child, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, was likely between 3 and 5 years old, younger than previously thought. X-rays in 1986 had led scientists to believe that the child was about 8 when it died.

The earlier scan also showed that the child had an unusually large head, and researchers still don't know what caused the abnormality, said Ellen James, spokeswoman for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Scientists also could not confirm the sex of the child.

As for the spear, "They don't know if that was the cause of death or if the embalmers did that to keep the head steady in the sarcophagus," she said.

Scientists say they got good images of bone structure and the child's face and hope to someday have a facial reconstruction on display at the Pittsburgh museum, James said.

The mummy of the child, who lived sometime between 380 B.C. and 250 B.C., dates to the Ptolemaic Dynasty and was acquired by the museum in 1912. It has been on display there museum since 1989.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Egypt to establish up to date labs to conduct DNA tests on mummies

Source: Egypt State Information Service

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawwas has said the government is planning to establish an up-to-date laboratory to conduct DNA tests on mummies.

Hawwas said the lab will cost $3 million to be paid by the American National Geographic network.

The American TV will further produce a documentary on Queen Hatshepsut, he added.

Hawwas noted that the lab will be equipped with state of the art technology and located at the basement of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo.

"Egyptian scientists and archaeologists will supervise the DNA tests, led by the head of the National Centre for Research and Tests Dr Hani el-Nazir," he said.

Hawwas said he was one of the staunch opponents of conducting DNA tests on mummies in the past because of poor equipment, which yield incorrect results.

"The second reason is that such tests were exclusive for unspecialized foreigners, who were just seeking fame," he said.

"I remember that one of them claimed that a DNA test on the mummy of a child pharaoh in Saint Louis museum had shown his European origin."