Sunday, December 22, 2013

Solstice Sunrise 2013

We chose to go to Karnak Temple for the winter solstice sunrise today rather than yesterday, and we are very glad we waited. Yesterday there were 1,500 people. Today there were perhaps 15! And the sunrise was surely equally spectacular.

The perfect akhet (hieroglyph meaning "horizon") and a bird I only discovered when I was reviewing my shots!

A shot I would normally have trashed, but it has a certain je ne sais quoi...

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Rome with a View...

I have just completed work on my 2014 calendar, "My Rome with a View". The photos therein are just a small sampling of the hundreds I took during the two weeks in April 2013 that I had the good fortune to spend in Rome, the Eternal City.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Winter's Cloudscape

There have been some dramatic developments in the sky over Luxor this afternoon. The winds have blown in many clouds and the interaction of those and the sun and bits of blue sky have yielded interesting patterns.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

OI News & Notes New Issue Online

The Winter 2014 issue of the OI's News & Notes is now available online:
The lead article, "Tell Edfu: Archaeology and Site Management" by Nadine Moeller and Gregory Marouard, is a fascinating review of the Tell Edfu Project and how it has "progressively uncovered almost 3,000 years of occupation".

You will also find an "In Memoriam" for Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters, who left us too soon in August of this year. 

And don't forget that all OI publications, including all the volumes of the Medinet Habu series, are available for free download.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keeping Your Shit Together When You're Depressed...

Apologies all around! This post has nothing to do with Egypt or France or California but I feel compelled to share it with my blog followers, since depression is, unfortunately, a constant in my life. Luckily for me, when I am at home here in Egypt, I am not plagued by the "black devils". I am happy! But this is for the other times...

I want to take my hat off to Rosalind Robertson (The DIY Couturier) for her excellent post responding to an article called "21 Habits of Happy People". As she writes, "It pissed me off beyond belief, that there was an inference that if you weren’t Happy, you simply weren’t doing the right things." Oh, how many times have I felt the same when well-meaning but misguided people (not my good friends, of course!) have tried to tell me how to overcome my depression... I hope Rosalind's piece will provide some comfort and help to those of you who suffer from this vicious disease. And I also hope that friends and families of those afflicted and the "general public" will take this to heart. 

21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You're Depressed

 Save Yourself 

Egypt News Round-Up from Nervana

For those of you who would like to stay current about what's happening in Egypt, may I recommend that you subscribe to Nervana? An excellent recap of all the news you need to know nicely laid out in a day-by-day format. Check out the latest issue:

Egyptian Aak. Week 49 ( Dec 2- Dec 8) | Nervana

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Plethora of Holidays...

Wishing you a purr-fect Thanksgiving!


Happy Hanukkat!

Best wishes from Marie and the CH Cats!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

In Remembrance

Posthumous official portrait of President Kennedy by Aaron Shikler
On this, the 50th anniversary of that terrible November day, I set down some of my thoughts about JFK's assassination:

This 50th anniversary has special meaning for me: my first instance of political activism happened to be going door-to-door campaigning for JFK at the ripe old age of 8 in the summer of 1960. He visited the SF Bay Area during his campaign and I actually saw him from afar.

The morning of November 22, 1963, I was in my 8th grade classroom at St. John the Baptist Parochial School in El Cerrito, CA when the announcement was made. I don't really remember the sequence of events at school, other than our solemn recess in the schoolyard under very grey skies. The weather certainly fit the occasion!

My most vivid memories are of the following days when we were glued to the television set. These are just a few of the images that will remain with me as long as I have a memory: Walter Cronkite reporting in a choked voice and close to tears; Jackie in her blood-stained raspberry outfit standing silently by LBJ's side as he took the oath of office; little John-John bravely saluting his father's coffin; the riderless horse with the boots turned backward in the stirrups; and Jack Ruby shooting Oswald that Sunday.

It might not have been the end of innocence for the country, but in a way it was the beginning of the end of my innocence. Only five years later, in April 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. And I will never forget that dreadful June morning in the same year when my father came to wake me for school and told me that Bobby Kennedy had been shot! My high school graduation, which should have been a joyful event, was overshadowed by the sorrow of this loss.

No matter what we have learned about him in the five decades since his death, JFK will always be, for me, a source of hope, someone who was confident that our best years lay ahead, who was energetic and charismatic, a leader. I still miss him, and probably always will.

Requiescat in pacem.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not Just in Cairo (Graffiti of the Revolution)

Graffiti is Redefining Public Spaces in Post-Revolutionary Cairo (WSJ)

In Luxor too! Here are some photos I took just before leaving Luxor in April:
On the grounds of a school in Luxor

On the wall of the Faculty of Arts

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Helen Jacquet-Gordon (1918-2013)

There is an empty place in our hearts today...

From Dr. W. Raymond Johnson:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Helen
Jacquet-Gordon, 95, at her home in Carouge, Switzerland, on April 26th. The loss to Egyptology is profound. Helen was a true Renaissance woman who specialized in ancient Egyptian ceramics but was proficient in the language, epigraphy, art, history, and archaeology of ancient Egypt and the Sudan, and was herself an accomplished artist (and musician). She is survived by her husband, archaeological architect Jean Jaccquet.

Born on February 7, 1918 in New York, Helen came to Egypt in 1955 for the purpose of completing her thesis for the École des Hautes Études at the Sorbonne. In 1956 Helen met her life partner Jean Jacquet on the excavations of the University of Pennsylvania at Mit Rahina. For the next 50 years work and pleasure took them all over the Middle 
East, where they participated in a variety of historic archaeological expeditions: in Egypt and Nubia during the construction of the Aswan High Dam, ("the Nubian Salvage Campaign" from 1957 to 1965); in Lebanon at Tyre (1964 to 1968); and at Tabo in the Dongola province of the northern Sudan (1967-1977). Their main undertaking was in Upper Egypt at North-Karnak, an 18th dynasty site (the Treasury of Thutmosis I) situated just north of the great temple complex. There they conducted excavations from 1968 to 1977 and 1989 to 1992 under the
auspices of the Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire (IFAO). While working at Karnak they lived in Alexander Varille's historic mud-brick house perched on top of the Karnak northern enclosure wall overlooking the temple of Ptah.

From 1997 until 2007 they resided with the team of the Epigraphic Survey at Chicago House (Oriental Institute, University of Chicago) in Luxor where they continued to work on publications and consult with the Survey. There Helen finished and published her groundbreaking The Graffiti on the Khonsu Temple Roof at Karnak: A Manifestation of Personal Piety, OIP 123 (Chicago 2003), the third volume in the Epigraphic Survey's Khonsu Temple series. She and Jean consulted with the Chicago House team on many aspects of the Survey's work at Luxor Temple and Medinet Habu, and it was a real joy to have them with us for that decade.

Their photographic archive contains more than 7,400 images (6x6 and 35 mm) of which the greater part is devoted to the architecture, archaeology and epigraphy of the ancient Near East. In 2008, Helen and Jean donated these archives to the library of Chicago House in Luxor, where they form the Jacquet Archive in the Chicago House Photographic Archives.

Helen was an inspiration to all who knew her, and she raised the bar high. 95 years old, yet she published a major pottery double-volume (Karnak-Nord X) just last year, and her book on Tabo is in press now at the IFAO in Cairo. She truly was one of the greats of Egyptology, and will be terribly missed.

Helen's funeral will be on Thursday, May 2nd. Condolences may be sent to:

Jean Jacquet,
6, Place d'Armes,
1227 Carouge,

Saturday, April 13, 2013


First night in Paris and I followed my usual routine. Had dinner at Brasserie Les Cascades, kitty-corner from my hotel (Hotel de la Porte Dorée). Started with my usual Kir Californien, served with wonderful marinated olives, and ordered up the 'vin du moment', which was a St. Chinian 2011:
Plat principal was the Croque Poilâne Provençal (jambon, emmental, tomates, oignons, herbes, served on the tasty pain Poilâne) with a green salad:
Dessert--what else but crêpes Nutella?
Un déca avec speculoos:
All for a mere 22 euros! Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy 'April in Paris' evening.


Allow me to present Fluffy, Andy Dailey's monitor lizard, hailing from Luxor and now living in Korba! Home safe after falling off the balcony!!

One Last Shisha Sunset...

It's coming to the end of the season and we had to have one last shisha sunset. The view is hard to take--not!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Before Class in Luxor

For as long as I can remember, 7:45 a.m. has marked the beginning of the school day here in Luxor. Especially on Sundays, because I don't come to breakfast until 7:30, I have listened to the various songs and prayers and lectures amplified over the schools' sound systems. I'm sad that they haven't done "Knick Knack Paddy Whack" for quite some time! Finally, last Sunday, I made it to the roof in time to record some of this at the girls' school a little to the southeast of us. In this short clip, you will see that both physical and spiritual activities are part of the program.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Sunny Day

What a difference a day makes! This morning has been mild, breezy, sunny and clear, as opposed to yesterday's haze, smoke and dust. It was a morning for going up on the roof and enjoying my morning tea and the view. The birds were enjoying it too. There were bee-eaters, sunbirds, kites, doves and bulbuls!
And Beau was out-and-about today, too, enjoying the view from the roof.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

If you want to see firsthand what all the fuss is about with Bassem Youssef, then watch this episode of "Al Bernameg". It's subtitled. And if you can't watch the whole thing, start from 22:30 for a powerful statement about the so-called 'leadership' of Egypt.

More on the Bassem Youssef Affair

Get with the programme:

"On Sunday I went out with a colleague to get reactions to the Bassem Youssef investigation. In a taxi on the way to Imbaba we asked the driver his opinion and in a serendipitous convergence, the taxi driver declared that he had worked with B. Youssef last week. It was a moment that would have made Thomas Friedman self-combust: a taxi driver who is also a primary source."

And Bassem Youssef and Co. Saga Continues:

A Tweet!
"Lawyer suing @DrBassemYoussef says theres been an explosion in freedom of speech under Morsi President. Thats what's creating chaos"

Stewart Destroys Pres. Morsi for Going After 'Egypt's Jon Stewart' After Vowing to 'Welcome Every Opinion'

Hazy Day

This morning was dusty, hazy, smoky. Eyes are burning, but at least the breeze has cooled it down. And it's dispersed some of the dust and smoke.