Spain celebrates Pharaoh digs and digger


(eTN) – In Thebes, archeologists revealed an intact 11th dynasty burial of a man called Iker n the Dra Abul Naga area on Luxor’s west bank. Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni announced the discovery recently, adding that the burial was found by a Spanish archaeological mission during routine excavation work in the open courtyard of TT11, the tomb of Djehuty.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that inside Iker’s burial shaft, the mission found a closed wooden coffin painted in red and decorated with an inscription running along all four sides. It also bears drawings showing Iker presenting offerings to the goddess Hathor, otherwise known as the mistress of the skies. Hawass explained that the coffin is very well preserved except for its base, which has suffered termite damage. The remains will be restored and consolidated before it is removed from the burial so that excavation can go on. A collection of five 11th and 12th dynasties vessels was also found in the shaft, along with five arrows, three of which were still feathered.

Dr. Jose Galán, the head of the Spanish mission, said that further excavation will bring more of the burial to light and will enable the mission to uncover more of its funerary collection. The coffin will be removed, as it is blocking the entrance to the inner part of the small rock recess used as a burial chamber.

Following this archeological news on the Spanish mission, is breaking news on the top Egyptologist who Spain has ‘knighted’ due to his contribution to world heritage.

For his dedication and untiring efforts in promoting Egypt’s cultural and archaeological heritage, Hawass receives The Golden Medal of the Royal Band, an award given by the government of the Spanish province of Ourense honoring top cultural leaders around the world. According to the Spanish ambassador to Egypt, Antonio López Martinez, this award is the most prestigious in Spain, and has previously been given to their majesties the king and queen of Spain, and his Holiness the pope Jean Paul II.

This distinction was presented Sunday, February 17 to Dr. Hawass by the Spanish Ambassador Antonio López Martinez,, in the presence of the Royal Bagpipe Band, at the embassy premises in Cairo. The Royal Band will mark the event by holding a gala night performance at the Sound and Light Theater at the footsteps of the Giza Pyramids.

During the celebration, Martinez highlighted the strong and warm relationship between Egypt and Spain in many different areas. He emphasized that the visit of Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia early this month reflects the wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries in culture and archaeology. The royalties were in Egypt to inaugurate with First Lady Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak an exhibition, held in the Prince Taz Palace, celebrating Ibn Khaldun.

The Royal Band is a symphonic group of bagpipes, which is unique in the world for its composition and form and which uses discipline as a constant referent in all their work. It inspires the public through performances infused with the joy and charm of youth, which unites peoples from all over the world with its message. The band represents the maximum artistic expression of the thousands of students that study the secrets of the Galician pipes at the provincial Pipe School in Ourense. As well as being a channel for the students of the school, the Royal Band is an important source of pride. The pipes are a national symbol of Galicia, taking the spirit of Galicia to all corners of the world. The seed of this musical institution was planted by the Royal Band’s founder and director Xosé Lois Foxo. Band members wear the classic 18th century full-dress costume. On special occasions, they don the ancient tudense costume of medieval origin. The Royal Band play in the most star filled moments of the social and cultural calender of Galicia, as well as in TV specials dedicated to the region; and has taken its music and magic to the farthest reaches of the world, including Asia, America, and Europe. The Royal Band’s director presented Hawass an authentic bagpipe, one of the band’s musical instruments.

Hawass’ archaeological career spans several historic discoveries including the workmen’s cemetery at Giza, the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahariya and the Graeco-Roman governor’s oasis tomb, a 5,000-year-old tomb in Saqqara, new evidence of granite quarries in Aswan, and traces of a gigantic temple at Akhmim. He has also discovered numerous treasures from the Great Pyramid, work for which Hawass has received a number of local and international awards.

Egyptian President Mubarak presented Hawass with the state award of the highest degree for his efforts in the Sphinx restoration project. In 2002, he received the American Academy of Achievements’ Golden Plate and the Glass Obelisk from US scholars, for his devotion to the protection and preservation of ancient Egyptian monuments, a prize received by Egyptian scientist and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zuweil, on the same year.

In 2003, in recognition of his achievements and outstanding contribution to world culture, Hawass became only the second Egyptian after Boutros Boutros Ghali to have been accorded international membership in the Russian Academy for Natural Sciences (RANS). The honor is bestowed upon outstanding scholars, Nobel laureates and statesmen in science, culture and economy. The RANS presented Hawass with the Silver Pavel Tretiajiy Medal, a prestigious international decoration named after Pavel Tretiajiy, an outstanding Russian patron of the arts.

For his many achievements in the ongoing effort in retrieving Egypt’s stolen antiquities, Hawass received the Ecumene d’Oro (The Golden Globe) Award from the Supreme Institute for Cultural and Environmental Conservation Techniques in Italy. The award is a prestigious international recognition given every 10 years to three people chosen from around the world for their pioneering roles in the protection of cultural and environmental heritage.

In 2005, the American University in Cairo (AUC) awarded Hawass an honorary PhD not only for his endless efforts with bringing great Pharaonic archaeological discoveries to world attention, but also for his unfaltering activity to spread knowledge of ancient Egyptian civilization across the world. Previous recipients of this award include First Lady Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, Ahmed Zuweil, US-based Egyptian scientist Farouk El-Baz and Palestinian intellectual Edward Said.

In 2006, he was chosen by Time Magazine as one of 100 most influential people of the year. Also in 2006, he received the Emmy Award presented by the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work on a documentary film about King Tutankhamen and the Valley of Kings, in which he gave his signature scholarly but approachable commentary on Egyptian civilization. The film’s director also received an Emmy for the film, which was produced by CBS in 2005.The award itself is a golden statue of a winged woman holding a ball, with Hawass’s names inscribed on the base. Hawass is the first Egyptian to win this prize, and also the first person presented with the award who does not work in the media industry.