How Many Government Staff Members Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb in King Tut’s Display Case?

(p. A7) The intense attention paid by experts to Tutankhamen’s tomb has not always been matched by staff members at the run-down Egyptian Museum. In January the government said eight people at the state-run museum were being disciplined for their role in a botched repair job that caused minor but lasting damage to King Tut’s golden burial mask.
The repair job was an attempt to correct the damage caused by workers who had accidentally knocked the beard from the 3,300-year-old artifact in August 2014 as they repaired a light fixture in its display case.

For the full story, see:
DECLAN WALSH. “King Tut’s Blade, and ‘Iron From the Sky’.” The New York Times (Fri., JUNE 3, 2016): A7.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JUNE 2, 2016, and has the title “King Tut’s Dagger Made of ‘Iron From the Sky,’ Researchers Say.”)

Dubai Has Strong Ruling Clan, But Weak Institutions

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Source of book image: http://www.christopherdavidson.net/sitebuilder/images/DVOS_cover-210×300.jpg

(p. 4) For Mr. Davidson, Dubai’s greatest weakness lies in its autocratic governing system. Politics in the emirate, as in most of the Middle East, pivots not on institutions but on clans — a ruling dynasty and its favorites who own and run Dubai in opaque fashion.

True enough, but most of the Middle East is authoritarian, yet Dubai’s enlightened despotism and welcoming social environment have stood out for fostering economic advance. Like China, albeit on a tiny scale, Dubai is engaged in an experiment of economic liberalization without political democracy.
Mr. Davidson further contends that unstable neighbors threaten Dubai’s success, but here he may have matters reversed. When Egypt and Iran stifle their entrepreneurs, many of them find a wide berth in Dubai. When Saudi Arabia imposes cultural restrictions on its population, Dubai offers a place to drink and let loose. When India and Pakistan have trouble creating jobs for their large populations, Dubai absorbs labor migrants. When Iraq or Lebanon descends into war, Dubai profits from rebuilding them.
In short, until a vast arc of countries from East Africa to Southeast Asia changes substantially, Dubai will remain poised to benefit by providing a relatively open, secure, low-tax, business-friendly alternative.

For the full review, see:
STEPHEN KOTKIN. “OFF THE SHELF; The Glittering Emirate, Revisited.” The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sun., December 7, 2008): 4.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date December 6, 2008, and the title “OFF THE SHELF; Dubai, the Glittering Emirate, Revisited.”)

The book under review, is:
Davidson, Christopher M. Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

Heart Disease Affected Ancients Who Differed in Culture, Class and Diet

EgyptologistPreparesMummy2013-06-16.jpg “Egyptologist Dr. Gomaa Abd el-Maksoud prepares the mummy Hatiay (New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1295 BCE) for scanning. Hatiay was found to have evidence of extensive vascular disease.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A4) SAN FRANCISCO–It turns out there is nothing new about heart disease.

Researchers who examined 137 mummies from four cultures spanning 4,000 years said Sunday they found robust evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, challenging widely held assumptions that cardiovascular disease is largely a malady of current times.
An international research team of cardiologists, radiologists and archeologists used CT scanners to evaluate the mummies, hunting for deposits of calcium in arterial walls that are a telltale sign of hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They found that 47, or 34%, of the mummies had such deposits, suggesting, they said, that cardiovascular disease was more common in historic times than many experts think.
. . .
The same researchers reported similar findings in 2009 from Egyptian mummies. Because those specimens were believed to have been from the upper echelons of society, the researchers surmised their calcified arteries could have developed from high-fat diets. But by expanding the research to other cultures, including Puebloans of what is now the U.S. Southwest, the researchers believe all levels of society were at risk, regardless of diet.

For the full story, see:
RON WINSLOW. “U.S. NEWS; Telltale Finding on Heart Disease.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., March 11, 2013): A6.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 10, 2013.)

“No Street Protester Has Yet Endowed a University Department”

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Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.

(p. A13) Over the next three decades, Breasted would excavate a series of sites in Egypt, the Sudan and the Near East. He would also develop an important ability to identify rich and influential benefactors and to gain their confidence without resorting to sycophancy. . . . Notable among the Maecenas figures he cultivated was John D. Rockefeller.

Rockefeller had been an early patron of the University of Chicago; he might have done something for Near Eastern studies in any case, but it is clear that without Breasted’s energy and enthusiasm, Rockefeller’s scholarly philanthropy would never have taken the course it did. Eventually, he provided the funding for an entire Oriental Institute in 1931. (The OI, as it is affectionately known, had existed from 1919 but essentially as a concept between academic committees.) Together with its Egyptian offshoot, Chicago House, the OI is perhaps the leading center of Egyptology and Assyriology in the world. At the moment, on both sides of the Atlantic, we are hearing a lot about the evils of bankers and capitalism, but as far as I know no street protester has yet endowed a university department.

For the full review, see:
JOHN RAY. “BOOKSHELF; From Illinois To Mesopotamia; Excavating sites in Egypt and the Near East, writing groundbreaking books and developing a talent for courting wealthy donors.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., February 23, 2012): A13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Book under review:
Abt, Jeffrey. American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Partage Provides Incentives to Recover Antiquities and the Means to Preserve Them

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Source of book image: http://press.princeton.edu/images/k8602.gif

(p. D1) In some cases, it makes aesthetic or archaeological sense to keep artifacts grouped together where they were found, but it can also be risky to leave everything in one place, particularly if the country is in turmoil or can’t afford to excavate or guard all its treasures. After the Metropolitan Museum was pressured to hand over a collection called the Lydian Hoard, one of the most valuable (p. D2) pieces was stolen several years ago from its new home in Turkey.
. . .
(p. D2) In his book “Who Owns Antiquity?”, James Cuno argues that scholars have betrayed their principles by acquiescing to politicians who have exploited antiquities to legitimize themselves and their governments. Saddam Hussein was the most blatant, turning Iraqi archeology museums into propaganda for himself as the modern Nebuchadnezzar, but other leaders have been just as cynical in using antiquities to bolster their claims of sovereignty.

Dr. Cuno advocates the revival of partage, the traditional system in which archeologists digging in foreign countries would give some of their discoveries to the host country and take others home. That way both sides benefit, and both sides have incentives to recover antiquities before looters beat them to it. . . .
As the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dr. Cuno has his own obvious motives for acquiring foreign antiquities, and he makes no apology for wanting to display Middle Eastern statues to Midwesterners.
“It is in the nature of our species to connect and exchange,” Dr. Cuno writes. “And the result is a common culture in which we all have a stake. It is not, and can never be, the property of one modern nation or another.”
Some of the most culturally protectionist nations today, like Egypt, Italy and Turkey, are trying to hoard treasures that couldn’t have been created without the inspiration provided by imported works of art. (Imagine the Renaissance without the influence of “looted” Greek antiquities.) And the current political rulers of those countries often have little in common culturally with the creators of the artifacts they claim to own.

For the full commentary, see:
JOHN TIERNEY. “FINDINGS; A Case in Antiquities for ‘Finders Keepers’.” The New York Times (Tues., November 17, 2009): B6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary is dated November 16, 2009.)

The Cuno book discussed above, is:
Cuno, James. Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

45% of Mummies Had Heart Disease

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“A mummy enters the CT scanner at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. It was one of 52 mummies examined for signs of heart disease.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the Omaha World-Herald article quoted and cited below.

(p. 6A) Atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries — was surpris­ingly widespread during an­cient times, at least among the Egyptian mummies examined by an international team of sci­entists and heart specialists.

Their research, whose re­sults were presented April 3 in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Col­lege of Cardiology, found that 45 percent of the mummies they put through CT scans had signs of atherosclerosis.
That raises questions about whether hardening of the arter­ies is the modern disease that many think it is.
“We found it so easily and frequently that it appears to have been common in this soci­ety,” said Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s Hospi­tal in Kansas City.

For the full story, see:
MC CLATCHY NEWSPAPERS. “Hardened Arteries Go Back Centuries.” Omaha World-Herald (Mon., April 18, 2011): 6A.

What a Picture Is Worth

AppleLaptopEgyptianYouths2011-02-28.jpg“In Cairo, Egyptian youths used laptops to post video they had shot earlier Tuesday in Tahir Square. The group has been collecting accounts of the demonstrations and voices of the protesters, putting them on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

The photo above was at the top of the first page of the New York Times on Weds., Feb. 9, 2011. You have a group of lively, engaged, young people intoxicated with the idea that they may be helping to bring their country freedom. And in the center of the dark picture, amidst the conversations, is one youth looking with concentration at an Apple laptop, the sole source of color and illumination.
If I was Steve Jobs, I would value this one photo at more than a whole hour’s worth of Superbowl ads.

The photo above was placed above the following story on the front page of the NYT:
DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK. “As Egypt Protest Swells, U.S. Sends Specific Demands.” The New York Times (Weds., February 9, 2011): A1 & A12.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 8, 2011.)