Category Archives: AFRICA

There is a hidden underground ‘city’ beneath the Giza Pyramids, experts claim

There is a hidden underground ‘city’ beneath the Giza Pyramids, experts claim

An enormous system of caves, chambers and tunnels lies hidden beneath the Pyramids of Giza, according to a British explorer who claims to have found the lost underworld of the pharaohs. Populated by bats and venomous spiders, the underground complex was found in the limestone bedrock beneath the pyramid field at Giza.

An enormous system of caves, chambers and tunnels lies hidden beneath the Pyramids of Giza, according to a British explorer who claims to have found the lost underworld of the pharaohs.
The unearthing of a lost city in Egypt was reported in many papers in 1935, including this report in the Sunday Express on July 7, 1935.

“There is untouched archaeology down there, as well as a delicate ecosystem that includes colonies of bats and a species of spider which we have tentatively identified as the white widow,” British explorer Andrew Collins said.

Collins, who will detail his findings in the book “Beneath the Pyramids” to be published in September, tracked down the entrance to the mysterious underworld after reading the forgotten memoirs of a 19th-century diplomat and explorer.

“In his memoirs, British consul general Henry Salt recounts how he investigated an underground system of ‘catacombs’ at Giza in 1817 in the company of Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia,” Collins said.

The document records that the two explored the caves for a distance of “several hundred yards,” coming upon four large chambers from which stretched further cave passageways.

With the help of British Egyptologist Nigel Skinner-Simpson, Collins reconstructed Salt’s exploration on the plateau, eventually locating the entrance to the lost catacombs in an apparently unrecorded tomb west of the Great Pyramid.

Indeed, the tomb featured a crack in the rock, which led into a massive natural cave.

“We explored the caves before the air became too thin to continue. They are highly dangerous, with unseen pits and hollows, colonies of bats and venomous spiders,” said Collins.

According to Collins, the caves — which are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years old — may have both inspired the development of the pyramid field and the ancient Egyptian’s belief in an underworld.

“Ancient funerary texts clearly allude to the existence of a subterranean world in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids,” Collins told Discovery News.

Indeed, Giza was known anciently as Rostau, meaning the “mouth of the passages.”

This is the same name as a region of the ancient Egyptian underworld known as the Duat.

“The ‘mouth of the passages’ is unquestionably a reference to the entrance to a subterranean cave world, one long rumoured to exist beneath the plateau,” Collins told Discovery News.

Collins’ claim is expected to cause a stir in the Egyptological world.

Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has dismissed the discovery.

“There are no new discoveries to be made at Giza. We know everything about the plateau,” he stated.

But Collins remarks that after extensive research, he found no mention of the caves in modern times.

“To the best of our knowledge, nothing has ever been written or recorded about these caves since Salt’s explorations. If Hawass does have any report related to these caves, we have yet to see it,” Collins said.

Restoration Reveals Engravings in Egypt’s Temple of Esna

Restoration Reveals Engravings in Egypt’s Temple of Esna

The Egyptian-German archaeological mission has uncovered original reliefs and engravings on the walls and ceilings of the Temple of Esna in Luxor, Upper Egypt during ongoing restoration work.

Restoration Reveals Engravings in Egypt’s Temple of Esna

The mission uncovered a distinguished relief on top of the entrance gate of the temple showing 46 eagles standing in two rows, with some bearing the heads of the Upper Egypt goddess Nekhbet, and others bearing the head of the Lower Egypt goddess Wadjet.

“This is the first time to find this relief,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It was not seen or mentioned in the works published by the French Egyptologist Serge Soniron, who documented the temple’s reliefs in 1963 and 1975, Waziri added.

Hisham El-Leithy, the head of the Central Department for Egyptian Documentation Centre and head of the mission from the Egyptian side, explained that the uncovered reliefs and engravings at the Esna temple were hidden beneath dust and accumulation of salts and birds deposits over the last 2000 years.

This discovery made it important for us to begin a restoration project, funded by the American Research Centre in Cairo, to protect the temple and uncover its decorations, El-Leithy stressed.

Meanwhile, the mission also found a Roman engraving in red ink on the western side of the temple dating from the era of the Roman Emperor Domitian, 81-96 CE, who might have completed the construction of the temple.

More studies will be carried out on these engraving to show more details.

Construction on the Temple of Esna, which is dedicated to the ram god Khnum and his divine consorts, began in the Roman era during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and its decoration was completed during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251 AD).

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Temple of Esna suffered from urban encroachment, which limited access to the site only through one of the houses built around it.

During the reign of Mohamed Ali Pasha (1805-1840 AD), the temple is reported to have been used as a storage facility for the cotton crop.

The Spirit Cave Mummy is Over 10,000 Years Old

The Spirit Cave Mummy is Over 10,000 Years Old

The remains were found with moccasins, a rabbit-skin blanket, and many other artifacts.

Mummies are deceased humans or animals that have been preserved, which keeps their remains from decaying any further. While Ancient Egyptians are most commonly associated with the mummification process, there are actually mummies found all over the world.

The process can either be deliberate or accidental.

The Spirit Cave Mummy, wrapped in the material in which it was laid to rest.

Although you may have used toilet paper for a mummy costume in the past, the real method includes wrapping the dead body in linen and embalming it. And on rare occasions, environmental conditions happen to be just right to result in a body’s preservation.

Now you may be wondering who the oldest mummy is, and that honour goes to the Spirit Cave Mummy at 10,600 years old. However, its importance runs deeper than just its old age.

The Spirit Cave Mummy was part of a fierce battle between the government and a Native American tribe over its cultural and scientific significance.

The Spirit Cave Mummy was discovered in 1940 by archaeologists and husband-and-wife team George and Sydney Wheeler. They found several sets of remains in a small rocky cave located in northwest Nevada, one of which was partially mummified.

The mummified man was determined to have died while he was in his forties. His remains were found wrapped in a rabbit-skin blanket and reed mats, and he was still wearing moccasins.

At the time the man’s mummy was found, it was estimated that he died between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. However, when more advanced testing methods came along in the 1990s, it was found that the skeleton was actually 10,600 years old, making the Spirit Cave Mummy the oldest mummy found in North America.

There was a long legal argument starting in 1997 over who should have possession of the oldest mummy in North America. Native Americans from the region believed that they should have the remains due to cultural affiliation since the mummy was found in their ancestral homeland. However, when the federal government rejected their request for possession, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony sued the government.   

The government alleged that they wanted possession of the remains for scientific research, but the US Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act states that Native Americans have control over resurfaced items and remains to which they have biological or cultural connections.

The US government’s Bureau of Land Management is the agency that declined the tribe’s request. Although a US District Court Judge told the agency to reconsider their decision, no progress was really made with this case for 20 years.

The Great Basin Desert where the Spirit Cave Mummy was discovered in 1940.

Initially, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe did not want to pursue genetic analysis to prove that the mummy was an ancestor, but eventually, they agreed to do so.

A couple of years later, the DNA sequencing test revealed that the skeleton was in fact related to the indigenous people of North and South America. On November 22, 2016, the mummy was repatriated to the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and they held a reburial for the remains.

Several scientific findings were made due to the discovery of the Spirit Cave Mummy. It was one of the first to be dated using accelerated mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating, a process that revealed the mummy to be much older than previously thought. It raised further questions about migration patterns in early North and South America. Additionally, a total of 67 artefacts were recovered from the cave along with the mummy, revealing how ancient humans lived and died.

Although it took many years for the mummy to be repatriated to the local Native American tribe, DNA testing ended up being a win-win for all parties involved.

The Paiute-Shoshone Tribe was able to prove ancestry and have the remains returned to them, and the government was able to gain some vital scientific information from performing the test before repatriating the remains.

There is so much more to be discovered about the past, and each finding brings scientists closer to more answers. DNA analysis on the Spirit Cave Mummy gave more insight into early humans and resolved the conflict between the federal government and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.

Egyptian Light Bulb: What You Need To Know To Separate Fact From Fiction

Egyptian Light Bulb: What You Need To Know To Separate Fact From Fiction

Egyptian Light Bulb: What You Need To Know To Separate Fact From Fiction

A wall inscription in the Temple of Hathor at Dendera seemingly depicts an ancient Egyptian light bulb which some interpret as evidence that the Egyptians had electricity. It has been suggested that the inscriptions resemble a Crookes Tube, an experimental electrical discharge tube invented in the 19th century. Archaeologists and Egyptologists have dismissed these claims as fiction but the Dendera light continues to spark curiosity. We will embark on a journey to the ancient past to separate truth from myth and explain the origin and history of the so-called Dendera light.

Dendera Light: What Does It Mean?

The temple complex at Dendera in Upper Egypt was the cult centre of Hathor, the ancient Egyptian goddess of the sky, fertility, women, and the mother of the sun god Ra. An inscription on a stone relief located in an underground passageway beneath the main temple has been a source of controversy for several decades. Pseudohistorians have interpreted the inscription, otherwise known as the Dendera light bulb, as evidence that the ancient Egyptian possessed knowledge of electricity and actually had electric lights. Their theory has been dismissed by archaeologists and Egyptologists who maintain that the carving is a depiction of an Egyptian creation myth.

– Pseudohistorians Claim the Carving Depicts an Ancient Light Bulb

At first glance, the inscription appears to resemble an elongated bulb and a wavy line inside that looks like a wire. The ‘wire’ leads to a small box on which we see a deity kneeling. Next to the bulb, we see two-armed Djed pillars connected to the wire-like object in the middle and a baboon armed with two knives.

According to the Swiss pseudo-archaeologists and novelist Erich Von Daniken, the carving represents a light bulb. He and other non-mainstream historians interpret it as proof of the existence of electrical lighting in Ancient Egypt. Daniken goes even further and suggests the snake served as a filament and the Djed pillar as an insulator while the tube itself was an ancient light bulb. The baboon is interpreted as a guardian who makes sure the device is not misused.

– It’s Not a Light Bulb, But a Scene From One of the Oldest Egyptian Myths, Egyptologists Say

Where pseudo-historians see a light bulb, Egyptologists see a depiction of a well-known motif from ancient Egyptian mythology. On closer inspection, it becomes clear the wire is, in fact, a snake emerging from a lotus flower. If we’re to understand what the carving really depicts, it’s necessary to refer to an ancient Egyptian creation myth. The bulb-like object is believed to depict the womb of the sky goddess Nut, the wife of the earth god Geb, through which the sun god Ra travelled every day. A consensus among Egyptologists is that the snake we see in the middle of the bulb-like object is the god Harsomptus, commonly known as Horus. It has also been suggested that the bulb-like object symbolizes the womb of Nut, from which Horus emerges in the guise of a serpent to give birth to a new day.

Horus: The Unifier of Two Lands and the God of the Sky

One of the most important ancient Egyptian deities, Horus, known under various other names such as Her, Heru, and Hor, plays a crucial role in Egyptian mythology. Horus had been worshipped in prehistoric Egypt and later came to be associated with kingship and the political unity of Egypt. He is depicted in many forms, including that of a serpent, falcon, and child. An Egyptian myth mentions Ihy, the son of Horus and Hathor, coming into existence out of a lotus flower. It has prompted some Egyptologists to put forth a theory that ancient light bulbs depicted on temple carvings are lotus flower bulbs serving as divine incubators.

A Lotus in a Shape of a Lamp or Evidence of Electricity in Ancient Egypt?

For most Egyptologists, the inscriptions beneath Hathor’s temple at Dendera are firmly rooted in Egyptian mythology. However, a Norwegian electrical engineer was the first to claim that the image depicted an ancient Egyptian lamp. The theory was brought to public attention when two Austrian authors published a book in which they argued that the Dendera light served as an electrical device that illuminated the Temple of Hathor.

Another electrical engineer constructed a working model of the Dendera light and found that the: “The light filament grows wider until it fills the whole glass balloon. This is exactly what we see in the pictures in the subterranean chambers of the Hathor sanctuary.”

– The Dendera Relief Is Not Alone in Depicting Lotus Shaped ‘Lamps’

The lotus flower was sacred to ancient Egyptians for many reasons. In one version of the ancient creation myth, the lotus flower had been the first thing to emerge from the waters of the shoreless primordial sea that existed before the creation of the world. The lotus then gave birth to the sun god Atum-Ra, the first deity thought to have created other gods. The lotus in the shape of a lamp frequently appears as a motif on ancient reliefs and carvings. This is sufficient proof for most Egyptologists who interpret the Dendera light as a symbol of the sun god emerging from the lotus flower.

– Why the Dendera Light Controversy Persists

Despite the consensus among Egyptologists, some find the idea of the existence of ancient Egyptian electricity too exciting to give up on. According to them, the Dendera light had been a secret known only to priests who had access to the sacred parts of the temple and performed rituals. As a part of the New Year celebrations, the priests in the temple created a small amount of light that would have emanated in waves from the serpent’s body. Nevertheless, the inscriptions do not seem to corroborate this theory. Numerous sources suggest the Dendera inscriptions have a mythological meaning, while the evidence that would support the light bulb theory is entirely lacking.

– Is There a Secret Message Hidden in Dendera Inscriptions?

No historical texts referring to the existence of ancient Egyptian lighting techniques have been discovered. Archaeologists haven’t found any electrical artefacts in tombs and ancient sites throughout Egypt. It is possible, however, that our knowledge is incomplete and that there’s a deeper meaning to Dendera wall reliefs. The absence of definitive proof leaves room for speculation.

– A Short History of Dendera Temple Complex

The temple complex at Dendera is arguably the best-preserved temple complex in Egypt. Dendera was the cult centre of the goddess Hathor, one of the most important ancient Egyptian deities. The site on which the temple had been built served as a necropolis in the Early Dynastic Period, but the existing structure dates back to the Ptolemaic period. The temple complex remained in use during Roman times when the hypostyle hall was built.

The large temple complex houses several temples, shrines, a basilica, two birth houses, and a sacred lake within its walls. Roman Emperors from Tiberius (14 – 37 AD) to Marcus Aurelius (161 – 180 AD) continued to make additions to the complex that remained in use until the Christian period.

Hathor: Ancient Egypt’s Most Beloved Goddess

The splendour of the Dendera Temple Complex and its continuous use bears witness to the extraordinary popularity of Hathor. The goddess was worshipped from pharaonic to Roman times as a symbol of fertility and life. According to an ancient Egyptian belief, Hathor would travel from her temple at Dendera to Edfu, where the temple of her husband Horus is located. The period was referred to as a ‘Happy Reunion’.

The Temple of Hathor is also famous for the Zodiac of Dendera, a bas-relief depicting human and animal figures discovered on the ceiling of a chapel in the Temple of Hathor. Egyptologists believe it represents a night skyscape that the Egyptians used as a map of the sky. It was previously thought it served as a giant horoscope. The Zodiac of Dendera was taken to France in the 19th century and is on display in the Louvre Museum.  ,

Conclusion

Dendera reliefs remain a source of controversy, with some claiming that it depicts a light bulb while Egyptologists dismiss the theory, stating the reliefs refer to an ancient creation myth. Evidence for the former is lacking as the theory rests on conjecture and is not consistent with what we know of Ancient Egypt. Still, the Dendera light remains a mystery for a number of reasons:

  • The inscription seems to depict a bulb-like object and a wire and a cable
  • It was found in an underground corridor beneath the Temple of Hathor, where sacred rituals were performed
  • Some suggest that the Dendera bulb was used in New Year celebration rituals
  • Egyptologists believe the inscriptions depict a sun god emerging from a womb

The Dendera reliefs will continue to be an object of study for Egyptologists and those intrigued by the possibility they might depict an ancient light bulb.

85 ancient tombs unearthed in Egypt

85 ancient tombs unearthed in Egypt

A total of 85 tombs, dating back to the period from the Old Kingdom of Egypt some 4,500 years ago until the Ptolemaic dynasty spanning from 305 BC to 30 BC, were unearthed in the southern province of Sohag, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said.

The remains of many mummies have been found inside these tombs, which span an impressive range of time. The earliest burials contain the remains of people who lived in Egypt’s Old Kingdom 4,500 years ago, while the most recent can be traced to the era of the Ptolemaic dynasty, the Hellenistic kingdom that ruled the nation from 305 to 30 BC.

This noteworthy discovery was made by an archaeological mission from Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquity, which had been dispatched to the Gabal El Haridi region about 220 miles (350 kilometres) south of Cairo.

A funerary permit, written in Greek and hieroglyphics, found in one of the 85 new Egyptian tombs in Sohag province. Funerary permits included the dead individual’s name, parents’ names, age, and occupation.

The Amazing Artifacts Of The New Egyptian Tomb Area

This is not the first archaeological mission to be deployed in this area. However, the scope of what the archaeologists discovered, 85 new Egyptian tombs spanning nearly 2,500 years of history, has made this one of the more dramatic excavation seasons at Gabal El Haridi in recent memory.

In addition to the mummies they found, the archaeologists also recovered approximately 30 written certificates from inside the tombs that contained personal information about the deceased. These funerary permits included the dead individual’s name, parents’ names, age, and occupation. The information was written in Greek, but some of the permits also included Egyptian hieroglyphics that offered prayers to ancient Egyptian gods.

Many of the new Egyptian tombs unearthed at Gabal El Haridi were dug into the side of a local mountain. Some of the more elaborate tombs had one or more wells that had corridors leading to burial rooms.

Along with the 85 new Egyptian tombs, the archaeologists also uncovered the ruins of a sturdy tower house made from mudbrick. This imposing edifice was constructed during the reign of King Ptolemy III, who served as the third pharaoh of the Ptolemaic line. He ruled Egypt for 24 years, from 246 to 222 BC, under the auspices of a dynasty that was established in 305 BC by its first king Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian general who was a close confidant of Alexander the Great.

The tower house was an official structure of the government and would have served as a combination checkpoint and surveillance post. Government functionaries stationed at the tower house would have been responsible for monitoring the comings and goings of people passing over the border, by boat on the Nile River or by foot. They would have also collected taxes from travellers and merchants, plus insurance payments from the owners of ships sailing on the Nile.

This sturdy mudbrick tower house overlooking the Nile River, was found along with the 85 new Egyptian tombs.

The Egyptian archaeological mission also reported on their continued excavation of a Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the goddess Isis. In its time the temple would have been extravagant and impressive, not to mention gigantic. It was 450 long and 650 feet wide (140 by 200 meters) when first constructed, with an interior that featured thick columns and large gathering halls. Among the relics found inside the temple were 38 coins from the Roman era, and animal bones that revealed information about the diet of temple priests.

These ruins of an ancient Isis temple were originally discovered during previous excavations at the Gabal El Haridi site, but more and more of the buried building is coming to light.

The ruins of the ancient Isis temple were originally discovered during previous excavations at the Gabal El Haridi site. More and more of the buried building has been slowly revealed over the past few years, and archaeologists continue to be impressed by the size and span of this massive religious shrine that was built for worshippers of ancient Egypt’s most famous goddess.

Another noteworthy find during the most recent digs was a house that once belonged to a supervisor of workers. Among the ruins of this structure, the archaeologists salvaged the paper remains of some worker records, which included these individuals’ names, job duties, and salaries. This type of data is highly treasured by historical researchers since it gives them valuable insights into how average people lived long ago.

In Egypt, an Archaeologist’s Job is Never Finished

The archaeologists from the latest Supreme Council mission to Gabal El Haridi have found many important ruins and relics connected to the Ptolemaic dynasty period in particular. This transformational time in Egyptian history saw the nation develop one of the most substantial centres of Greek culture in the ancient world. This represents a remarkable evolution, given everything Egyptians accomplished within the boundaries of their own distinctive culture.

Egypt’s history is colourful and cosmopolitan, and because the land is so rich in ancient artefacts it is a history the world has gotten to know quite well.

No matter how long archaeologists keep digging in Egypt, they keep finding fantastic reminders of the country’s ancient glory. The Gabal El Haridi region in Sohag is just one of many sites that have produced a treasure trove of revealing ruins from an ancient culture that continues to fascinate the world.

An ancient Egyptian mummy forgotten in storage turns out to be a sacred bird often sacrificed to Thoth

An ancient Egyptian mummy forgotten in storage turns out to be a sacred bird often sacrificed to Thoth

An ancient Egyptian bird mummy, long forgotten in storage and mislabeled as a hawk, is finally getting its due now that researchers have digitally peered inside its wrappings.

An ancient Egyptian mummy forgotten in storage turns out to be a sacred bird often sacrificed to Thoth
Carol Ann Barsody and Frederic Gleach examine the over 1,500-year-old mummy bird.

The 1,500-year-old mummy, scientists learned, is not a hawk but likely a sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica) — a wading bird with stilt-like legs and a long curved beak that the ancient Egyptians often sacrificed to Thoth, the god of the moon, reckoning, learning and writing.

“Not only was this once a living creature that people of the day may have enjoyed watching stroll through the water,” Carol Ann Barsody, a master’s student in archaeology at Cornell University, who spearheaded the project, said in a statement. “It also was, and is, something sacred, something religious.”

Cornell University has no record of the mummy’s arrival into its collections. Barsody initially suspected that the mummy arrived as part of an 1884 freight of objects, which included the human mummy Penpi, a Thebian scribe. However, after doing further research, she discovered that no other Egyptian artefacts arrived with Penpi. 

Barsody now believes the mummy to have been part of a 1930 donation by Cornell alumnus John Randolph, but she is still playing detective to determine the mummy’s true origins.

Barsody worked at Cornell as an employee at the Center for Technology licensing and, while pursuing her degree in archaeology, became interested in the mummy as a case study for how technology could be used to unwrap the mystery. 

Barsody decided to learn all she could about the mummy without disturbing the animal inside. Along with Frederic Gleach, a senior lecturer and curator of Cornell’s Anthropology Collections, she took the mummy to the College of Veterinary Medicine where the lightweight 2-pound (942 grams) mummy underwent a CT scan in order to determine that it was, in fact, a bird.

The scan revealed that a leg had been fractured prior to the mummification process and that feathers and soft tissue were still preserved. They were also able to discern that the bird’s broken beak had occurred post mummification.

The pair then consulted Vanya Rohwer, the curator of Birds and Mammals at the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates who identified the remains as those of an ibis. This wasn’t too surprising, as ibises in ancient Egypt were bred in large numbers due to their popularity, particularly in their use as offerings.

Initially, this particular mummy perplexed the team because of the way the ancient Egyptians had prepared the bird. When examining the CT scan, they were unable to see how the bird had been folded into its current shape. It was only when using the museum’s collection of study skins and skeletons, carefully copying the bird’s shape by fitting pieces together, that they were able to conclude that the ibis’s head had been twisted around and bent back against its body.

The sternum and ribcage had also been removed — a practice that isn’t common among bird mummifications. 

The ibis was a bird that originated in Africa and was venerated not only in ancient Egypt but also in Greece and Rome, according to AviBirds. Thoth was regularly depicted as having a human body and the long-beaked head of a bird. Millions of ibises have been found in Egyptian necropolises, according to a 2019 study published by the journal Plos One.

Currently, Barsody is working with Jack Defay, an electrical and computer engineering student at Cornell, to scan the mummy in order to construct a virtual 3D model of the bird. 

This bird has “had multiple lives,” Barsody said. “I look at what I’m doing as another form of extending its incredible life.”

Barsody will soon launch a website, www.birdmummy.com, which will focus on using the mummy in order to increase the museum’s educational outreach. She also plans to open an exhibition of the bird, its 3D model and a hologram at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell in October. 

This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics

This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics

Almost two decades ago, archaeologists working in a burial chamber in the Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna necropolis west of Luxor, Egypt, found something unexpected: An exquisitely crafted prosthetic big toe fitted to the remains of a woman believed to be the daughter of a high status ancient Egyptian priest. 

As George Dvorsky at Gizmodo reports, the faux-toe, known as the Cairo Toe or the Greville Chester Great Toe is roughly 3,000 years old and is likely the earliest practical prosthesis ever discovered. Now, a detailed study of the digit has unlocked new secrets about the Cairo Toe.

Researchers took a closer look at the toe using modern microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography. Their 3D scans of the toe, which are not yet published, identified the materials the prosthesis was made from and how it was crafted. The most interesting finding, however, was that the toe was refitted several times to exactly match the woman’s foot.

This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics
The Cairo Toe

“The [toe] testifies to the skills of an artisan who was very familiar with the human physiognomy,” according to a press release from the University of Basel in Switzerland.

“The technical know-how can be seen particularly well in the mobility of the prosthetic extension and the robust structure of the belt strap.

The fact that the prosthesis was made in such a laborious and meticulous manner indicates that the owner valued a natural look, aesthetics and wearing comfort and that she was able to count on highly qualified specialists to provide this.”

The analysis was part of a reexamination of the Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna tombs and their related artefacts.

Experts from the University of Basel and other institutions are creating 3D archaeological and geological maps of the tombs. The necropolis, a warren of rock-cut tombs, was active in the 15th century B.C. and was remodelled several times over the centuries.

The tombs were eventually used as dwellings for early Christian hermits and were occupied by other people into the 20th century.

The Toe’s Tomb is one of many burial chambers in the area believed to be reserved for high-status Egyptians associated with the Pharoah, like the priest and his daughter. As the BBC reports, she likely died between the ages of 50 and 60 and suffered a toe amputation sometime in her past that had time to completely heal before her death.

The big question is whether the life-like toe was worn mainly for looks or if it actually improved the balance and functioning of its wearer.

There has always been a tension between aesthetics and functionality since people first crafted artificial limbs, explains Katherine Ott, a curator of the division of medicine and science at The National Museum of American History.

“It’s always been an issue and there’s never a single answer…Every era and culture has a different definition of what they consider body integrity what makes you whole,” she tells Smithsonian.com.

Though many of these early prostheses were likely challenging and uncomfortable to wear, “they prevent people from staring and make the user feel more integrated [into society],” she says.

The Cairo Toe, however, is unlike many other prosthetics from ancient times, Ott explains. Though it beautifully imitates a natural toe, it may have also helped the wearer with balance. Its stitching and mixed leather and wooden construction likely made it much more comfortable than other ancient prosthetics.

For example, the Egyptian cartonnage toe is an older prosthesis made of a type of linen Papier-mâché and was uncovered with a mummy in the 1880s. But this toe doesn’t bend at any joint, and modern tests suggest that if it was worn in real life, it was likely too uncomfortable to sport long term. Similarly, the Ancient Roman Capua leg—another early prosthesis from 300 B.C.—was cast in bronze. This heavy and non-jointed structure was likely impractical to wear.

“Generally prosthetics that mimic body parts don’t work as well…They are usually clumsy and fatiguing,” says Ott. But perhaps that wasn’t so with the Cairo Toe. Hopefully, this ancient prosthetic was as functional as it was beautiful, making the wearer feel both emotionally and physically more whole.

Gaza farmer finds a 4,500-year-old statue of the Canaanite goddess

Gaza farmer finds a 4,500-year-old statue of the Canaanite goddess

A farmer in the city of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, found a rare 4,500-year-old stone sculpture while working on his land. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Monday that the 22-centimetre-tall limestone head is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess Anat and is estimated to be dated to around 2,500 B.C.

The sculpture is 22 cm tall, made of limestone, with a head but without a body, and attached to the head was the crown of the snake, which was used by the gods as a symbol of strength and invincibility.

“Anat was the goodness of love, beauty, and war in the Canaanite mythology,” said Jamal Abu Rida, the ministry´s director, in a statement.

Anat, Anath, or Anatha is a major northwest Semitic goddess. Syria, particularly Ugarit and Mount Lebanon. Canaanites, Amorites, Egyptians (Elephantine), Libyans, and Hebrews all worshipped him.

Gaza, which was on important trade routes for ancient civilisations, is home to numerous ancient treasures

Goddess Anat of fertility, sexual love, hunting, and war. From the fertile agricultural area along the eastern Mediterranean coast, her cult spread throughout the Levant by the middle of the third millennium BC.

Her attributes vary widely among different cultures and over time, and even within particular myths. She likely heavily influenced the character of the Greek goddess Athena.

Gaza, a narrow enclave on the Mediterranean, boasts a trove of antiquities and archaeological sites as it was a major land route connecting ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia.

However, unearthed artefacts regularly vanish, and development projects are given priority over the preservation of archaeological sites.

Bulldozers working for an Egyptian-funded housing project discovered the remnants of a Roman-era tomb in January, Gaza.