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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Times Of Oman :: Egypt's parliament endorses law to regulate NGOs


http://timesofoman.com/article/97586/World/Middle-East/Egypt
Egypt's parliament endorses law to regulate NGOs
November 29, 2016 | 9:56 PM
by Reuters

The sun sets in Cairo, Egypt November 27, 2016. The bill bans NGOs from conducting fieldwork or polls without permission or "from cooperating in any way with any international body without the necessary approval". Human rights groups say that includes the United Nations. Photo - Reuters



Cairo:
Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly endorsed a law regulating non-governmental organisations on Tuesday that human rights groups and activists say effectively bans their work and makes it harder for charities to operate.


The bill restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non- compliance.

It bans NGOs from conducting fieldwork or polls without permission or "from cooperating in any way with any international body without the necessary approval". Human rights groups say that includes the United Nations.

The bill also stipulates that foreign NGOs be overseen by a regulating agency that includes representatives of Egypt's military, intelligence service and interior ministry.

The parliament amended the bill to include an increase in the license fee for NGOs to 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,812.15) from 10,000 pounds.

Lawmakers who drafted the bill say is necessary to protect national security. The government has long accused human rights groups of taking foreign funds to sow chaos and several are facing investigation over their funding.

"I can say that the law met all the demands of the civil society organisations and the requirements for maintaining national security," said parliament speaker Ali Abdelaal.

Egyptian rights activists say they face the worst crackdown in their history under general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, whom they accuse of erasing freedoms won in a 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

The government had been working for years on a new law regulating NGOs, which human rights groups feared would be more restrictive than Mubarak-era rules.

But the bill that was drafted and rushed through by MPs in recent weeks before is tougher than anything the government had considered, including the requirement of oversight into the funding and work of charitable and development groups with no political links.

"Egypt's parliament is trying to dodge public scrutiny by rushing into force a law that would effectively ban what remains of the country's independent civil society groups," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a press release on Monday.

NGOs say they have felt exposed since late 2011, when authorities raided 17 pro-democracy and rights groups, accusing them of joining a foreign conspiracy against Egypt.

In 2013, a court ordered the closure of several foreign pro-democracy groups, including US-based Freedom House, and gave jail sentences to 43 NGO staff including 15 Americans who had fled the country.

A case against dozens of Egyptian NGOs and lawyers was never closed but remained largely dormant until this September, when a court approved a freeze on the assets of five human rights activists and three NGOs accused of receiving foreign funds.

Human Rights Watch called on the president, who still needs to ratify the bill, to reject it.

"It is absolutely essential for President Al Sisi to reject this strong-arm manoeuvre by parliament and assert his prerogative to draft a new law with input from Egyptian organisations," Whitson said.


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Ancient Egypt: 2,000-year-old Roman pet cats buried at Berenike port town


http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/2000-year-old-pet-cats-unearthed-roman-graveyard-egypt-1593214

2,000-year-old pet cats unearthed in Roman graveyard in Egypt

The way the cats were buried suggests that they were well-cared-for pets that died of natural causes.

86 pet cats from Roman times were found on the outskirts of the ancient port town of Berenike in Egypt. The method of burial suggests they were not part of a religious ritual but simply pets that died of natural causesMarta Osypińska

The remains of more than 80 pet cats dating from Roman times have been excavated at the ancient town of Berenike on the Red Sea.

The site is a unique example of the burial of household pets in Roman times, according to a paper published in the journal Antiquity.

Animals buried as part of religious or spiritual ritual ordinarily have artefacts buried with them, but most of the animals found at Berenike did not have any.

There were some exceptions to this, with some cats found with an ostrich egg shell bead by their necks. Three cats and a vervet monkey were buried with iron collars on.

"In addition to individual animal inhumations, three burials contained two animals," says study author Marta Osypińska of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

"So far, the only species found in such double burials are cats, and significantly, they always contain an adult and a juvenile."

Cats were killed and mummified during this period "on an almost industrial scale", says Osypińska, but the Berenike site shows that domestic animals were also given careful burials when they died naturally.

A map of where the pet remains were found on the outskirts of Berenike.Marta Osypińska

The cat graveyard is found next to the ancient military port town in an area known to archaeologists as the "Early Roman trash dump". But at the time the cats were being buried, it was a clear undulating area on the outskirts of Berenike.

The site was in use from the end of the First Century CE into the first half of the Second Century CE.

"In my opinion, the described features suggest that the Berenike finds should be interpreted as a cemetery of house pets rather than deposits related to sacred or magical rites," Osypińska says.

"The animal cemetery in Berenike appears to be a unique site. Relations between people and animals in the past are usually approached through the prism of archaeozoology, but this too often neglects the possibility of pet-keeping, which is assumed to be a modern phenomenon. The finds from Berenike seem to question this assumption," Osypińska concludes.


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Glassmaking may have begun in Egypt, not Mesopotamia | Science News


https://www.sciencenews.org/article/glassmaking-may-have-begun-egypt-not-mesopotamia

Glassmaking may have begun in Egypt, not Mesopotamia

Artifacts from Iraq site show less sophisticated technique, color palette

By
12:00pm, November 22, 2016

GLASS CONTRASTS  Glassmaking started in ancient Egypt, not the Near East as often assumed, researchers say. Approximately 3,400-year-old fragments from a decorated glass vessel found in Iraq (right) may even represent a fairly crude attempt to copy more advanced Egyptian glass colors and designs (left) from the same time.

SAN ANTONIO — Ancient Mesopotamians have traditionally been credited with inventing glassmaking around 3,600 years ago. But Mesopotamians may have created second-rate knock-offs of glass objects from Egypt, where this complex craft actually originated, researchers reported November 19 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Arguments that glass production originated in Mesopotamia largely rest on artifacts recovered nearly a century ago at Nuzi, a site in what’s now Iraq. Glass finds there included colored beads, vessels and pendants.

It’s unlikely those discoveries come from the dawn of glassmaking, said conservation scientist Katherine Eremin of Harvard Art Museums. She and an international team of colleagues, led by archaeologist Andrew Shortland of Cranfield University in England, determined that glass items excavated at Nuzi represent a mix of ancient Mesopotamian items and glasswork from later occupations, some as recent as the 1800s. Genuine Mesopotamian glassware comes from sediment recently dated to around 3,400 years ago, later than initially thought, Eremin added.

Comparably old Egyptian glass items display an array of colors, including red, green, yellow, opaque blue and translucent blue (SN: 1/24/15, p. 8). Some Egyptian glass features patterns of wavy, colored lines. Nuzi items from Mesopotamian times show a poorer grasp of glassmaking, Eremin said. Those remains consist mainly of beads, a majority of which are colored translucent blue. Wavy, colored lines on some beads are crudely formed and arranged.

“Nuzi glassmakers may have consciously copied Egyptian styles rather than leading the way in the glass industry,” Eremin said.

Further study of ancient glass objects from other sites is needed to resolve the question of whether glassmaking originated in Egypt or the Near East, she said.

Citations

A. Shortland et al. The origins of glass: the Near East or Egypt? Annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, San Antonio, November 19, 2016.  

Further Reading

B. Bower. Ancient Egyptian blue glass beads reached Scandinavia. Science News. Vol. 187, January 24, 2015, p. 8.

B. Bower. Ancient glassmakers: Egyptians crafted ingots for Mediterranean trade. Science News. Vol. 167, June 18, 2005, p. 388.


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Museum friends group calls it a day after 50 years (From The Bolton News)


http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/14932395.Museum_friends_group_calls_it_a_day_after_50_years/

Museum friends group calls it a day after 50 years

END: Joyce Butler, Chairman of Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery

/ Craig Archer, deputy news editor /

ON what should be a milestone occasion, instead of organising celebrations a Bolton charity is calling time.

In its 50th anniversary year the Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery has decided to call it a day.

The group is supported by volunteers and voted to fold this week at its annual meeting after seeing a drop in membership numbers.

Over the last five decades members have helped to raise money for Bolton Museum, in Le Mans Crescent, to fund new collections and projects.

Judith Redfern, aged 63 of Breightmet, has been an active member of the registered charity for the last 30 years and attended the meeting where the decision was made to fold the group.

She said: “It is just sad to see something that has been going so long deciding to close. It felt like a fait accompli.

“The trustees were more or less saying because of diminishing numbers and committee members getting older there was no one to replace them. The majority voted in favour of ending.

“The numbers were getting lower but I feel like nothing was being done to market the group, no one knew we were here. There wasn’t anything to encourage younger people to join and we are all getting older. It is just so sad.”

The Friends group was founded in 1966 with Joyce Butler acting as long-term chairman. Members met regularly and raised money through day trips and weekends away to heritage spots around the UK. Any profit funded acquisitions for the museum.

This included a permanent collection of Bolton footballer Nat Lofthouse’s sporting memorabilia in 2013.

A council spokesman said it would continue to work with Friends and will be consulting with members on how to re-invent and reinvigorate a group of supporters for the museum as it moves forward with plans for the Egyptology gallery.

The spokesman added: “We are very sorry to see the group fold as we have enjoyed a long and mutually supportive relationship over many years. The Friends of Bolton Museum is a charity and its volunteers have sadly declined in numbers to the point where they have struggled to recruit new blood and enough people willing to take over the running of the committee. The group very kindly helped Bolton Museum to purchase its famous Thomas Moran painting ‘Nearing Camp, Evening on the Upper Colorado River, Wyoming, 1882’, which is our pride and joy. And more recently they held an exhibition at the museum, displaying the many artefacts they helped us to acquire over the years, for which we will be forever grateful.”


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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Galleries for Ptolemaic Egypt Now at The Met | The Metropolitan Museum of Art


http://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met?facetname=Ptolemaic+art&facettype=tag

Nesmin: A Man Who Lived and Died More Than 2,000 Years Ago

Thursday, August 25, 2016 | 2 Comments
Isabel Stünkel, Associate Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

The reopening of our Ptolemaic galleries after their renovation is a good opportunity to reflect on Nesmin, whose mummy and coffin are now back on display. Modern medical technology and analysis of the inscriptions on his coffin can bring this individual, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, closer to us.
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Petrified Sound and Digital Color: A Hathor Column in the New Ptolemaic Galleries

Friday, August 12, 2016 | 1 Comment
Dieter Arnold, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art; Ann Heywood, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Sara Chen, Draftsperson, Department of Egyptian Art


On view in the newly renovated Ptolemaic galleries is a graceful, broken-off upper part of what is known as a Hathor column, inscribed with the names of Nectanebo I, who reigned from 380 to 362 B.C., that is, 30 years before the beginning of the Ptolemaic Period. According to the information passed on about its findspot at the time of its purchase in 1928, the column originates in the Delta in Egypt, although no specific location was given.
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A New Life for the Book of the Dead

Thursday, July 28, 2016 | 2 Comments
Rebecca Capua, Associate Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

In preparation for the renovation of the Ptolemaic galleries of Egyptian art, riggers and technicians deinstalled one of the most-viewed objects at The Met, the Book of the Dead of the Priest of Horus, Imhotep, and its companion, Papyrus inscribed with six "Osiris Liturgies". The two scrolls are housed in eight framed sections, measuring around 100 feet in total length, in gallery 133. For the staff of the Department of Egyptian Art and myself, an associate paper conservator, this step represented the start of the second phase of the refurbishment of the scrolls' display.
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Scrolling through Imhotep's Book of the Dead

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | 1 Comment
Janice Kamrin, Associate Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

Our complete Book of the Dead, inscribed for a priest named Imhotep, is one of the highlights of our newly renovated Ptolemaic display. Measuring over 70 feet long, it stretches the entire length of galleries 133 and 134. When I pass through this corridor, I often find a knot of people clustered around the Weighing of the Heart scene, in which Imhotep comes before the ruler of the Netherworld, Osiris, and is either deemed worthy of joining the eternal company of the blessed dead or fails the test and dies forever. Several years ago, I was asked to take on the task of crafting new didactic material for this papyrus, as well as for a second, shorter one belonging to the same man. The papyri were purchased in Cairo in 1923 on behalf of one of our great benefactors, Edward Harkness, who lent them to the department until 1935, when they became part of our permanent collection.
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Nile and Newcomers: A Fresh Installation of Egyptian Ptolemaic Art

Thursday, June 30, 2016
Marsha Hill, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

After many years of study and planning and a yearlong closure for construction and transfer, the new installation of galleries 133 and 134 for Egyptian Ptolemaic art opened today. In them, beloved objects that occupied the old arrangement for 40 years—including the small head of Queen Arsinoe II, a wonderful owl plaque, the Book of the Dead of Imhotep, and many other intense and delicate creations of Egyptian culture at the time it converged with equally vital Greek culture—return to fresh, attentive display.
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Steep commute gave ancient Egyptian workers osteoarthritis | Science | AAAS


http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/steep-commute-gave-ancient-egyptian-workers-osteoarthritis

The artisans of Deir el-Medina hiked across the Theban hills to work in the Valley of the Kings every week, leading them to suffer from osteoarthritis in the knees and ankles.

Andrew McConnell/Alamy Stock Photo

Steep commute gave ancient Egyptian workers osteoarthritis

Commuting to work can be a real pain, and it was no different in ancient Egypt. About 3500 years ago, the artisans who dug out and decorated the rock-cut royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings—the burial ground of Egypt's New Kingdom pharaohs—had to walk about 2 kilometers from their homes, over the Theban hills, to the royal necropolis for work. It was a steep climb, repeated week after week for years, leaving them suffering from osteoarthritis in the knees and ankles, according to a new study.

Egyptologists already knew a great deal about the village where the workers lived—Deir el-Medina, in modern Luxor—because of the vast amount of written material found there in the early 20th century. But they had paid little attention to the physical remains of the artisans and their families, found interred in tombs beside the village, their bones commingled after thousands of years of robbery. This has now changed thanks to research undertaken by Anne Austin, an osteologist and Egyptologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Working in Egypt, Austin separated the commingled bones, estimated age and sex, and analyzed the joints for signs of osteoarthritis, which can cause pain and stiffness. She also compared them to remains found at other ancient Egyptian sites. She reports in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology that many of the men at Deir el-Medina showed higher rates of osteoarthritis in the knees and ankles than did the women. The location of the disease, and its higher occurrence among men, struck Austin as odd. Although the artisans' work in the Valley of the Kings was hard—involving digging, carving, and painting in the rock-cut royal tombs that descend into the Theban hills—this would mainly affect the upper body, not the knees and ankles.

To explain this, Austin examined the textual evidence from the village—administrative records that detail the artisans' daily attendance at work, and even their absences—and the artisans' physical environment. While their female relatives remained in the village, each week, the artisans hiked from Deir el-Medina over the Theban hills to stone huts, which are still standing as ruins just above the Valley of the Kings. They lived in these huts during the work week, descending and ascending the hill to the valley each day. At the end of the week, they returned to Deir el-Medina. Although the journey was short, it was steep, Austin observes: a rise of 151 meters from Deir el-Medina to the huts, and 93 meters from the huts to the Valley of the Kings. On top of that, the ancient records show that the workers would have hiked on average about 161 days each year. With a career lasting on average about 25–35 years, that's a lot of hiking—enough to likely cause the osteoarthritis found in the artisans' lower limbs, Austin argues.

"Her work is an intriguing new way of looking at occupation-related injuries,” says Kristina Killgrove, a biological anthropologist at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, who was not involved in the research. And as Austin herself comments, this information will be useful for those attempting to understand osteoarthritis not only in past populations, but in people today.

Yet because the bones were jumbled together at Deir el-Medina, Austin notes, it’s hard to tell specifically when each of the villagers died and at which point in their lives they first developed osteoarthritis. "It will be important in the future to attempt to control for age-at-death, as osteoarthritis frequencies increase with age," Killgrove says.


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Egyptian antiquities again offered for sale in London | Egypt Independent

For Christie's listing, go here. (http://www.christies.com/features/Ancient-Egyptian-bronzes-collecting-guide-7915-1.aspx?PID=mslp_related_features4) Glenn

http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/egyptian-antiquities-again-offered-sale-london
Egyptian antiquities again offered for sale in London

Wed, 23/11/2016 - 11:12

UK auction house Christie’s will hold a sale in London displaying several Egyptian antiquities that will be offered during "Classic Week' between December 6 to 15.

The collection, according to Christie’s website, “comprises many superlative examples of bronzes. They range from sculptures of deities, including Isis and Osiris, to striking statues of cats, bulls and fish. The timeless beauty of these pieces is bound to inspire a new generation of collectors.”

Meanwhile, Antiquities Minister Khaled Anany has ordered investigations within the ministry’s restored antiquities department. Shaaban Abdel Gawad, head of the department, said that the Foreign Ministry and Egyptian embassy in London have geared up efforts to stop the sale of the Egyptian antiquities in the auction.

He added that if it is proven that the artifacts were taken out of Egypt illegally, Interpol has vowed to restitute them.

Abdel Gawad indicated that this was not the first time that ancient Egyptian antiquities are sold, given that trade in monuments is not banned in Europe.

In October, Anany also announced that the ministry has taken the necessary legal measures to stop the sale of several artifacts belonging to Egypt's Islamic era during Sotheby's auction in London.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


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London antiquities sales set sail with Bonhams offering ancient Egyptian model boat


https://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2016/london-antiquities-sales-set-sail-with-bonhams-offering-ancient-egyptian-model-boat/

London antiquities sales set sail with Bonhams offering ancient Egyptian model boat

Specialist sales of antiquities in London kick off at Bonhams later this month with a 192-lot auction in New Bond Street on November 30.

An Egyptian Middle Kingdom, c.2133-1797BC, gesso-painted wood model boat, estimated at £30,000-50,000 at Bonhams’ antiquities sale.

A highlight of the Bonhams sale is this large 4ft 3in (1.3m) Middle Kingdom, c.2133-1797BC gesso-painted wood model boat, estimated at £30,000-50,000.

Manned by 10 sailors arranged in two parallel rows, this funerary piece would have been placed in a tomb for the deceased to journey into the afterlife. It has descended through the family of Lieutenant Colonel Esmond Sinauer, who acquired it in Egypt when serving as a young major in the British army during the early 20th century.

Sinauer collected other Egyptian antiquities, including a bronze Osiris that he mounted on his Rolls Royce in place of the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ mascot. 

Christie’s and Chiswick Auctions will also hold antiquities sales in London on December 6 and 7.



Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Find out more and Subscribe Today!



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There Was A Giant Sphinx On Fairfax Avenue In The 1920s: LAist


http://laist.com/2016/11/25/sphinx_realty_egyptomania.php

There Was A Giant Sphinx On Fairfax Avenue In The 1920s

by Juliet Bennett Rylah in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 25, 2016 2:15 pm


(Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

At one point in time, a Sphinx could be found along Fairfax, seemingly out of nowhere, entirely out of place. This piece of programmatic architecture housed the The Sphinx Realty Company, and it was built during a time that was big on novelty architecture, and even bigger on Egyptian culture.

It is believed that the building at 537 N. Fairfax was constructed around 1926, possibly even before that. Old photos show the realty firm's signs—some shaped like camels—advertising apartments and homes nearby. The address in modern times appears to be a parking lot.

In The Colossus of Roads: Myth and Symbol Along the American Highway, author Karal Ann Marling wrote about Los Angeles' many mimetic buildings, pointing out that—like many things here—a Sphinx had very little do to with Southern California.

Sphinx Realty lacked even that minimal confession to sober salesmanship. The company, apparently, sold neither cemetery plots nor spaces in Forest Lawn, and no more than its share of arid building lots in sunbaked subdivisions. Rather than a building warped into a colossal figure, this is a preexisting colossal statue, first shrunken in size and then scooped out to form a building. The content of the signage or symbolism, on both practical an aesthetic levels, is hopelessly cloudy. The passerby might easily postulate that Sphinx Realty is an ancient and therefore an honorable firm, or, conversely, that it is a trendy Egyptomaniac's answer to King Tut's recently discovered tomb, filtered through the Hollywood neo-Arabianism of Valentino and Theda Bara. Whatever the intention, the Los Angeles Sphinx is as freakish and enigmatic a presence as its famous prototype.


(Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Los Angeles was at the forefront of co-opting Egypt's ancient culture. In a Vanity Fair article about the 1920s Egyptian obsession in America, author Bruce Handy notes that L.A. developer Charles Toberman (aka Mr. Hollywood) may have "had a premonition that the Western world was on the verge of one of its periodic waves of Egyptomania."

Toberman was one of the people behind Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, which was built in 1922, the same year that Howard Carter and company entered Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings. This event is what sparked an interest in ancient Egypt in other parts of the world, impacting fashion, entertainment and architecture. And as Handy points out, "If the opening of King Tut’s tomb was a milestone in archaeology, the opening of Grauman’s Egyptian was a milestone in archaeological kitsch. And it was this one-two punch, separated by mere weeks, that would ignite a vogue for Egyptian-themed theaters in America," and, well, realty companies.

While it is the most jarring example of Roadside America kitsch, the Sphinx Realty building wasn't the only Sphinx in town—a pair of Sphinxes can be found outside of the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Pasadena, built in 1925. And Esotouric's Kim Cooper reminded me that there are also two pyramid-shaped tombs in the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, a historic graveyard established in 1884, notable for being the first cemetery in L.A. that was inclusive to all races. (It’s also where Buffy Summers and the Scooby Gang would often patrol for vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in scenes not shot on a lot.)

Down in the Guadelupe-Nipomo Dunes, archeologists uncovered yet another Sphinx in 2012, covered by sand. This one dated back to 1923, and was left behind by director Cecil B. DeMille after he wrapped The Ten Commandments.

You can get a glimpse of the lost real estate Sphinx in the video below, which contains scenes from Rick Prelinger's No More Road Trips.

(To view the video, go to the original article at http://laist.com/2016/11/25/sphinx_realty_egyptomania.php .  Glenn)
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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Egypt isn't the country with the most pyramids - ScienceAlert


http://www.sciencealert.com/sorry-egypt-but-sudan-is-the-pyramid-capital-of-the-world
TrackHD/WikiMedia Commons

Egypt isn't the country with the most pyramids

Not even close.

JOSH HRALA
25 NOV 2016
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Thanks to the movies, when most of us form a mental image of a pyramid, we transport ourselves to Egypt where those massive, triangular tombs are pretty much synonymous with the country itself.

There's one problem - despite what many of us might have assumed, Egypt isn't the pyramid capital of the world, or even northern Africa. That honour belongs to Egypt's southern neighbour: Sudan.

Yup, the country with the most pyramids in the world is Sudan, and we aren't being sticklers for details here. Sudan has between 200 to 255 known pyramids, compared to Egypt's 138, and no, they weren't created by ancient Egyptians who might have wondered further south.

Instead, the pyramids in Sudan were built by members of the Kingdom of Kush, an ancient civilisation that ruled areas along the Nile River from 1070 BC to 350 AD.

While the Kushites started building pyramids about 500 years after the Egyptians were over them, both cultures used them to entomb their dead.

As Fiona MacDonald reported for us last year:

"Just like the Egyptians, the Kushites entombed their royalty below lofty pyramids - presumably to help their souls reach up to the heavens - but structurally, the buildings are quite different. For starters, the Nubian pyramids are far steeper and narrower, and they're built from stepped stones, as opposed to the smooth surfaces of the wider Egyptian pyramids."

The sizes of the pyramids differ a lot, too. The average Kushite pyramid stands roughly 6 to 30 metres (20 to 98 feet) tall, while the average Egyptian pyramid is roughly 138 metres (453 feet).One of the biggest concentrations of Kushite pyramids is the ancient city of Meroë, which lies near the middle of modern day Sudan. This city alone contains roughly 200 out the country's 255 pyramids, suggesting that at some point, it was a thriving metropolis.

Despite knowing who built them and around what time period, researchers still have a lot of questions about the Sudanese pyramids that they still can't fully answer.

Did they use the same methods employed by the Egyptians? How long did it take for one to be erected? What happened to the society as whole? Right now, no one's quite sure.

The good news is that teams of archaeologists are currently working in Meroë to figure this out. One of the neatest ways archaeologists are doing this is by employing drones to scan the area from above.

As National Geographic shows in this video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=O7tAuPi_azU)

Besides not having the most pyramids, Egypt is also not home to the world's largest pyramid, either. For that, you'd have to travel to Mexico's Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is actually hidden inside a mountain.

So, just because Egypt's pyramids are the most talked-about in pop culture, doesn't mean the nation is the only one to have some seriously awesome ones.

And we still have so much to learn about the secrets they hide.


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Ancient Egypt: 2,000-year-old Roman pet cats buried at Berenike port town


http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/2000-year-old-pet-cats-unearthed-roman-graveyard-egypt-1593214

2,000-year-old pet cats unearthed in Roman graveyard in Egypt

The way the cats were buried suggests that they were well-cared-for pets that died of natural causes.

86 pet cats from Roman times were found on the outskirts of the ancient port town of Berenike in Egypt. The method of burial suggests they were not part of a religious ritual but simply pets that died of natural causesMarta Osypińska

The remains of more than 80 pet cats dating from Roman times have been excavated at the ancient town of Berenike on the Red Sea.

The site is a unique example of the burial of household pets in Roman times, according to a paper published in the journal Antiquity.

Animals buried as part of religious or spiritual ritual ordinarily have artefacts buried with them, but most of the animals found at Berenike did not have any.

There were some exceptions to this, with some cats found with an ostrich egg shell bead by their necks. Three cats and a vervet monkey were buried with iron collars on.

"In addition to individual animal inhumations, three burials contained two animals," says study author Marta Osypińska of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

"So far, the only species found in such double burials are cats, and significantly, they always contain an adult and a juvenile."

Cats were killed and mummified during this period "on an almost industrial scale", says Osypińska, but the Berenike site shows that domestic animals were also given careful burials when they died naturally.

A map of where the pet remains were found on the outskirts of Berenike.Marta Osypińska

The cat graveyard is found next to the ancient military port town in an area known to archaeologists as the "Early Roman trash dump". But at the time the cats were being buried, it was a clear undulating area on the outskirts of Berenike.

The site was in use from the end of the First Century CE into the first half of the Second Century CE.

"In my opinion, the described features suggest that the Berenike finds should be interpreted as a cemetery of house pets rather than deposits related to sacred or magical rites," Osypińska says.

"The animal cemetery in Berenike appears to be a unique site. Relations between people and animals in the past are usually approached through the prism of archaeozoology, but this too often neglects the possibility of pet-keeping, which is assumed to be a modern phenomenon. The finds from Berenike seem to question this assumption," Osypińska concludes.


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Divers uncover world's oldest harbor, in Red Sea - Archaeology - Haaretz - Israel News | Haaretz.com


http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.754616

Remains of the harbor structure by the Red Sea and the anchor deposits, near Wadi el-Jarf. Pierre Tallet

Divers uncover world's oldest harbor, in Red Sea

Archaeologists find monumental harbor built by King Cheops 4,600 years ago at Wadi el-Jarf to import stuffs to build the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The monumental harbor discovered under the waves at Wadi el-Jarf has been dated to 4,600 years ago, right in Cheops' time.

Cheops, also known by his Egyptian name Khufu, reigned from 2580 to 2550 B.C.E. He had the harbor erected 180 kilometers south of Suez, in the foothills of the desert mountains.

The site is nowhere near Giza: it seems it served mainly to import relatively lighter copper and minerals, which were used to manufacture the tools that were employed to build the pyramid.

The mere fact of the monumental harbor's existence gives us insight into the efficiency of the administration and its ability to organize highly complex logistical operations nearly five millennia ago, says Prof. Pierre Tallet of Sorbonne, the head of the excavations.

 
Pierre Tallet
 
Google Maps, elaborated by Haaretz

Riches in the Sinai

The area of Wadi el-Jarf was first identified as being of interest in 1823 by the British explorer Sir John Gardner, who noted the rock-hewn galleries in his diary.  Now marine archaeologists from the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo and Sorbonne University have discovered the monumental submerged harbor complex built by Cheops.

Over the millennia, the ancient Egyptians traded briskly with peoples around the region, operating from coastal towns on both the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. (Ancient Egyptian wares have been found as far north as Scandinavia, but could have reached there through middlemen in Europe.)

King Cheops himself was not only a great pyramid builder but evidently also a great businessman, trading along the Canaanite coast up to Byblos (today in northern Lebanon), and inland to the Sinai Desert and Jordan. The ancient Egyptians may have built the harbor to secure their supply of strategic resources, such as copper and turquoise, which were mined in the southern Sinai. 

Indeed, the entire history of pharaonic Egypt was inextricably linked with use of boats and ships.  Sail boats augmented with oars could travel 80 kilometers in a day, convenient not only for trade, but to quickly deploy troops.

 
Pierre Tallet

Among the astounding discoveries beneath the waves at Wadi el-Jarf was a monumental 200-meter long L-shaped pier built of large limestone blocks. The pier also functioned as a breakwater, offering sheltered anchorage for the boats moored within.

The diving archaeologists discovered 22 limestone ship anchors in situ in the mooring area, which probably fell off ships, since no wrecks have been found.  

Several large storage jars lying on the seabed next to the anchors were also found underwater.

In addition to dock structures, the archaeologists also discovered several pottery kilns, attesting to local ceramic production.

Thousands of locally made globular storage jars were found everywhere throughout the site – and also on the opposite bank of the Suez Gulf, at the Egyptian coastal fortress of Al-Markha. The fortress protected Egyptian trade in Sinai and was evidently supplied with provisions from the harbor.

 
Pierre Tallet

Enviably efficient administration

Next to the wharf, the archaeologists found the remains of large stone structures, measuring 30 meters long by 8 to 12 meters in width. Tallet postulates that these were administrative centers for the port's operations, and were also used to store material and foods for the miners working in Sinai. They may have also provided accommodation to teams briefly staying on the coast.

Between two of these structures, the archaeologists found a deposit of 99 stone anchors, some of which still had ropes attached. A significant number bore inscriptions in red ink with the name of the boat to which they belonged. That is truly an impressive level of organization for nearly 5,000 years ago.

The galleries hewn from the rock where the papyri were found lie six kilometers from shore. The tunnels carved into the hill average three meters in width and 15 to 20 meters in length, though some galleries were over 34 meters long.  Each gallery was narrowed by a series of large blocks of limestone and was finally sealed by a last block, arranged as a sort of gate. 

The galleries were used for storage, from oars to tools to food and water supplies: Three of the galleries were crammed with several dozen large locally made storage jars, which probably served as water containers.

 
Pierre Tallet

Most of the jars were inscribed with destinations, also in red ink, and the upper parts of each pot bore the name of the work team to which it belonged.

The excavators postulate that the galleries also served to store boat parts, based on the discovery of hundreds of pieces of wood, fragments of oars, and sections of ropes found inside. Among the wood bits were long wooden hull boards cut from logs of cedar from Lebanon, further evidence of the ancient Egyptians' long-distance trading in the 2nd millennium B.C.E..

Factory for boats?

Tallet goes one further. He is convinced that the galleries were not only used to store these parts but also for reassembling ship kits that were transported over the desert roads to the Red Sea.

His theory is supported by the discovery at a different pharaonic harbor, Ayn Sukhna, some 120 kilometers up the coast, by the same archeologists a few years ago.

 
Pierre Tallet

At Ayn Sukhna, which is also believed to have been connected with the mining operations in Sinai, two complete boats (which however were burnt in antiquity) were found inside the rock-hewn galleries.

"Ayn Sukhna probably replaced Wadi el-Jarf," postulates Tallet. "We can determine that Jarf was probably closed at the end of the reign of Cheops, and that Ayn Sukhna was opened about 10-15 years later, under the reign of Khaefre, his second successor. Ayn Sukhna is closer to the administrative city of Memphis, which is probably the reason why it was finally selected. Jarf was in use only for a few decades, but Ayn Sukhna was regularly used by the Egyptian for more than a thousand years."

Possibly, Jarf's use was intermittent, Tallet speculates: it might have only been used for expeditions to secure a supply of natural resources. "In between expeditions, sometimes for years, the place would be closed and the boats would be stored in the galleries. This is the 'raison d'être' of the caves," he told Haaretz.

Whispers of a pyramid inspector

Perhaps most astounding was the discovery in summer of around 800 pieces of papyri, dating to the reign of Cheops´s 27th regnal reign. This is the oldest papyrus archive ever found in Egypt, according to the Egyptian Institute of Antiquities.  

 
Pierre Tallet

These ancient documents were extraordinarily well preserved: some sheets were as much as a meter long.

The excavators believe that the papyri are the archive of a team of sailors, and includes two categories of documents. One is accounts organized in tables, corresponding to daily or monthly deliveries of food from various areas including the Nile Delta: mostly bread and beer for the port workers.

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The other documents are logbooks recording everyday activities of a team led by an inspector named Merer, an official from Memphis.

Merer, who oversaw a team about 40 men, was in charge of building the Great Pyramid in Giza. The documents describe transportation up the Nile River and the work at the limestone quarries, in the form of a time table.

Every fourth day, blocks would be delivered to a pyramid construction site on the Giza plateau called the "Horizon of Cheops", the papers explain.

 
Pierre Tallet

Did Herodotus libel Cheops?

Merer's journal also mentions his passage through an important logistic and administrative center, 'Ro-She Khufu' - which seems to have functioned as a stopping point near the Giza plateau.

It is especially emphasized that Ro-She Khufu was under the authority of a high-ranking official, Ankhhaef – none other than the half-brother of Cheops himself. Ankhhaef was the pharaoh's vizier and by the end of his reign, had achieved the status of "chief for all the works of the king".

Other logs in the same archive provide information on other missions accomplished by the same team of sailors during the same year, including building a harbor on the Mediterranean Sea coast.

Taller postulates that the harbor installations at Wadi el-Jarf served the Great Pyramid project by obtaining the vast amounts of copper necessary for tools (the pyramid was built millennia before the Iron Age), and some specific equipment used at Giza.

 
Pierre Tallet

Whatever the case, the Greek historian Herodotus describes Cheops as a harsh taskmaster, who forced all Egyptians to devote 20 years of their lives to dragging stone to the Great Pyramid he was building for his own aggrandizement. Cheops employed so many workers that it cost 1600 silver talents just to keep them supplied with black radish and onion, Herodotus reports (Histories 2.124).

Today many Egyptologists suspect that the "black legends of Cheops" are exaggerated and that Herodotus inflated and the number of workers needed to build the pyramid.

Recent calculations estimate that actually building the pyramid required 5,000 men, or, 15,000 if one includes people bringing the raw material to Giza, says Tallet, and adds, "They were not slaves, but specialists who were employed all the year long by the royal administration - and, from the records that we have on the papyrus, they were rather privileged."

 
Pierre Tallet
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