Category Archives: AFRICA

Divers find temples and treasure in Egypt’s ancient city of Heracleion

Divers find temples and treasure in Egypt’s ancient city of Heracleion

A trove of artefacts, including the remains of a temple, gold jewelry, coins and the missing piece of a ceremonial ship, have been found by divers swimming through Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city now underwater.

Heracleion — named after the legendary Hercules, who ancient people believed actually visited the city — was a bustling metropolis in its day.

When it was built in about the eighth century B.C., it sat on the edge of the Nile River, next to the Mediterranean Sea. Cleopatra was even crowned in one of its temples.

Then, about 1,500 years ago, it flooded and now sits under about 150 feet (45 meters) of water.

Ever since archaeologists discovered it in 2000, Heracleion (also known as Thonis) has slowly revealed its ancient secrets.

During the latest two-month excavation, archaeologists were delighted to find the remains of a large temple, including its stone columns, and the crumbling remnants of a small Greek temple, which was buried under 3 feet (1 m) of sediment on the seafloor, the ministry reported.

The excavation team of Egyptian and European archaeologists was led by Franck Goddio, the underwater archaeologist who discovered Heracleion 19 years ago.

Together, the team used a scanning tool that transmits images of artifacts resting on the seafloor and those buried beneath it.

A gold earring found at the underwater site.

The scanning tool revealed part of a boat. During past excavations, archaeologists had found 75 boats, although not all of them were complete.

This new finding was the missing part of boat 61, which was likely used for ceremonial purposes, the Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement.

It wasn’t a small boat, either. When the archaeologists pieced boat 61 together, it measured 43 feet long and 16 feet across (13 m by 5 m). 

The ship held tiny treasures — coins of bronze and gold, as well as jewelry. The bronze coins uncovered at Heracleion date to the time of King Ptolemy II, who ruled from 283 to 246 B.C.

The team also discovered pottery dating to the third and fourth centuries B.C., the ministry noted.

One of the coins found during the underwater excavation.

The team also looked at the underwater site of Canopus, which, like Heracleion, is located in the Gulf of Abu Qir, Alexandria.

At Canopus, the archaeologists found an ancient building complex that extended the city’s footprint southward about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), the ministry said.

Canopus also held other treasures; the archaeologists found an ancient port, coins from the Ptolemaic and Byzantine periods, and rings and earrings from Ptolemaic times.

All of these artifacts indicate that Canopus was a busy city from the fourth century B.C. to the Islamic era.

9-Year-Old Kid Literally Stumbled on Stunning Fossils of a New Hominid

9-Year-Old Kid Literally Stumbled on Stunning Fossils of a New Hominid

In South Africa, a young boy walking his dog has unconsciously stumbled through a pair of about 2 million years old which is now supposed to fill an integral gap in our knowledge of human evolution.

Nine-years-old Matthew Berger and his dog stumbled in a cavern close Johannesburg in 2008, in Malapa, South Africa, over the partially fossilized bones of an adult woman and a young man.

Since then, there has been much debate over whether these remains are genuinely distinct from previously discovered species.

Nine-year-old Matthew Berger upon the skeleton’s discovery.

The bones were found to be a close relative of the Homo genus and have come to be known as Australopithecus sediba (Au. Sediba) — “Australopithecus” means “southern ape.” And now, according to a new study, the remains are believed to be the bridge in human evolution between early humans and our more apelike ancestors.

Australopithecus sediba is thought to come between the 3-million-year-old apelike species known as Australopithecus afarensis (from which the famous “Lucy” specimen comes) and the “Handyman” species known as Homo habilis, who used tools 1.5 million to 2.1 million years ago.

And these latest Au. Sediba skeletons are even more complete than the famous “Lucy,” whose 1974 discovery was previously unprecedented.

“The anatomies we are seeing in Australopithecus sediba are forcing us to reassess the pathway by which we became human,” reported Jeremy DeSilva, co-author of the study.

The skeleton of Au. sediba on display at Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.

Though some researchers have noted this discovery as indeed that of a unique species since its uncovering in 2008, this latest study illustrates precisely how Au. sediba is, in fact, distinct.

The study thoroughly describes the new species’ anatomy and has found similarities with early members of the Homo genus “suggesting a close evolutionary relationship.”

The hands of the nearly 2-million-year-old Au. sediba resemble those of Homo habilis but are not the same, which suggests that the former was also able to use tools or at the very least, had a more precise grip than that of earlier species.

Australopithecus sediba is also now believed to have walked on two feet, though it would have spent much of its time in the trees, “perhaps for foraging and protection from predators,” the study said.

And all this, remember, came from an accidental discovery.

“Imagine for a moment that Matthew stumbled over the rock and continued following his dog without noticing the fossil,” the authors wrote.

“If those events had occurred instead, our science would not know about Au. sediba, but those fossils would still be there, still encased in calcified clastic sediments, still waiting to be discovered.”

Roman Senate Building Unearthed in Egypt

Remains of Graeco-Roman Senate Building Unearthed in Egypt

With a history as rich as Egypt’s, there’s really no limit to the type of discoveries that can be unearthed between Sinai to Siwa and down to Aswan.

North Sinai holds the remains of the ancient Egyptian city of Pelusium – an area now known as Tell Farama, which dates back to the Greek, Roman, and Ptolemaic ages.

Remains of a huge Graeco-Roman building, believed to have been the Roman Empire’s main senate, has been unearthed at the Pelusiam archaeological site near North Sinai.

The building was found by the Egyptian archaeological mission working on location in Tel al-Farma in cooperation with the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The 2,500 sqm building consists of bricks and limestone and contains three main amphitheaters covered with marble.

With the remains of three 60 cm-thick circular benches found at the third amphitheater made of red brick. 

“The building was most probably used as a headquarters for the Senate Council of Pelusium, one of the North Sinai’s old cities,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The initial studies conducted on architectural planning and the construction of the building indicated that it was used to hold meetings for the citizens’ representatives.

During the rule of the Ptolemies and Romans for taking important decisions about the public affairs of the city and its citizens, Waziri said.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said the 2,500-square-metre building shaped from outside as a rectangular, with circular terraces and the main gate located on the eastern side.

He pointed out that the interior design of the building consists of the remains of three 60 cm-thick circular benches which were built of red brick and covered with marble.

The mission also uncovered the main streets of Pelusium city, Ashmawy added.

He explained that during the fifth and sixth century AD, the building was used as a quarry where the stones, bricks, and columns were extracted from their original places for use in the construction of other buildings in the city.

New Discovery Finally Explains How The Egyptians Built Their Great Pyramids

Scientists Finally Discover Ancient Blueprints Showing How The Pyramids Were Built.

Built 4,500 years ago during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, the pyramids of Giza are more than elaborate tombs — they’re also one of the historians’ best sources of insight into how the ancient Egyptians lived since their walls are covered with illustrations of agricultural practices, city life, and religious ceremonies. But on one subject, they remain curiously silent. They offer no insight into how the pyramids were built.

It’s a mystery that has plagued historians for thousands of years, leading the wildest speculators into the murky territory of alien intervention and perplexing the rest. But the work of several archaeologists in the last few years has dramatically changed the landscape of Egyptian studies. After millennia of debate, the mystery might finally be over.

Researchers Discovered The Only First-Person Account Of The Great Pyramid’s Construction

A team of Egyptian and French scholars discovered a papyrus diary written by an official named Merer. What makes this discovery so compelling is that his diary is the world’s sole first-person description of how the Great Pyramid was built. Archaeologists found Merer’s papyrus in the Red Sea port of Wadi al-Jarf.

In his diary, Merer references working for “the noble Ankh-haf,” who was Pharaoh Khufu’s half-brother, and that he was in charge of about 40 men. These documents evidence that Ankh-haf was one of those in charge of the Great Pyramid’s construction.

The Pyramid’s Limestone Was Transported Via A System Of Canals

In Merer’s diary, he recounts how limestone quarried in Tura (about 12 miles south of Cairo) was transported by boat across the Nile River to Giza through specially built canals built by his team. One such vessel was unearthed at the bottom of the pyramids.

After traversing the river, the stone blocks were then deposited near the building site by workers using ropes. The blocks were further moved on tracks. The workers transported approximately 170,000 tons of limestone in this manner.

It’s believed a similar system was used to move granite from Aswan, which is located several hundred miles from Giza.

The Pyramid’s Stone Blocks Are Massively Heavy

Around 2550 B.C., Pharaoh Khufu started construction on the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is made up of approximately 2.3 million stone blocks. Each block is absolutely massive and weighs between 2.5 to 15 tons. When the Great Pyramid was built, it was reportedly 481 feet tall. Over time, the structure sunk a little into the desert and is now 455 feet tall.

The second pyramid was built about 30 years later by Khufu’s son, Pharaoh Khafre, who also constructed the Sphinx. Pharaoh Menkaure built the third, smallest, pyramid 30 years later, in approximately 2490 B.C. 

Egyptians Traveled Far To Mine Copper For The Tools To Cut The Stones For The Pyramids

The individuals who built the pyramids required strong tools to cut the stone for the pyramids. Workers mined copper across the Red Sea and transported it to the port of Wadi al-Jarf before it reached Giza. Pharaoh Khufu, also known as King Cheops, built the harbor about 111 miles from Suez – which is hundreds of miles from Giza. In addition to copper, the harbor was used to import other minerals for tool making.


Some Historians Believe The Pyramid Required 100,000 Workers

It’s impossible to agree upon an exact count of just how many people contributed to the building of the pyramids, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t educated hypotheses currently being postulated. According to Greek historian Herodotus, the pyramids were built by 100,000 workers, although many of today’s Egyptologists think the number is more likely between 20,000 and 30,000.

Famed Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, believes around 36,000 ancient Egyptians built the pyramids based on their size, the size of the tombs, and the cemetery.

Other Historians Think Only 5,000 Workers Contributed To The Pyramid Building Process

Archeologist Mark Lehner of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and Harvard Semitic Museum has postulated a vastly smaller number. He noted that Herodotus wrote that 100,000 men worked in three shifts to build the structures. It’s unclear whether each shift contained 100,000 men or 33,000 men worked in each of the three shifts.

Lehner’s team conducted an experiment and calculated how many men would be needed to deliver 340 stones each day and determined there were likely 1,200 in the quarry and 2,000 delivering the stones. Other men would also be needed to cut the stones and set them into place. He concluded the process would have required “5,000 men to actually do the building and the quarrying and the schlepping from the local quarry” to build the pyramid within a 20-40 year period.

The Pyramids’ Alignment Points To An Alien Conspiracy

Some people believe the ancient Egyptians had some otherworld help creating the pyramids. One theory that conspiracy theorists have latched on to is that the pyramids were built by aliens. Their proof? They point out that the pyramids at Giza align with the stars in the sky that form Orion’s belt. In addition, these people believe that the Giza pyramids are in extraordinary shape compared to pyramids that were constructed hundreds of years later.

However, they don’t take into consideration the fact that the pyramids of Giza have undergone intense preservation over the years so it makes sense that they are in better condition than those that haven’t been touched. 

Dutch Physicists Believed The Ancient Egyptians Used Wet Sand To Drag The Blocks Across The Desert

In 2014, researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter conducted an experiment. They transported heavy stone on a sledge across the sand. They proved it was significantly easier to move the sledge on damp sand versus dry sand. In fact, the action required just half the force. The reason? Wet sand sticks to itself and is more solid than dry sand. Plus, damp sand doesn’t bunch up in front of a sledge while it’s moving. In addition, the researchers noted that a painting from an 1800 B.C. tomb depicted a worker dumping water on the sand to help a sledge moving a heavy statue.

Another Theory: The Stones Were Turned Into 12-Sided Polygons & Rolled To The Site

Dr. Joseph West of Indiana State University developed his own theory about how the stone blocks were moved to the pyramid’s construction site. In 2014, he suggested that builders might have secured wooden beams to a stone block, turning it into a dodecagon (a 12-sided object), which would have enabled workers to more easily move them, as opposed to dragging them. He wrote:

A novel method is proposed for moving large (pyramid construction size) stone blocks. The method is inspired by a well known introductory physics homework problem and is implemented by tying 12 identical rods of appropriately chosen radius to the faces of the block. The rods form the corners and new faces that transform the square prism into a dodecagon which can then be moved more easily by rolling than by dragging.

The Pyramid Were Actually Constructed From Concrete

French theorist Joseph Davidovits was on the right path. His ideas led to the discovery of concrete blocks that were used on top of the pyramids. Professor Michel Barsoum from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University tested Davidovits’s theory and determined several things. The stones both inside and outside the pyramid appeared to be “reconstituted” limestone.

The stones contained a lot of water and were amorphous, which is extremely unusual for limestone. Moreover, silicon dioxide nanoscale spheres were present in one sample, indicating the blocks were not “natural” limestone.

Barsoum noted: 

It’s very improbable that the outer and inner casing stones that we examined were chiseled from a natural limestone block.

Perhaps The Pyramids Were Built Inside Out

When it comes to placing the large stone blocks in place on the pyramids, many believe the ancient Egyptians used large ramps. Thousands of people would have been required to set two million blocks to make the structures.

In 2013, engineer Peter James, whose company spent nearly two decades restoring the pyramids, disputed that claim. He called it “impossible” because the ramps would have had to be about one-quarter mile long. Otherwise, they would be too steep to move the limestone and granite materials. Instead, James theorized that the workers crafted the inner core of the pyramid with smaller blocks using a series of zigzagging ramps.

Then they constructed scaffolding to complete the outer core with larger blocks. James told the Daily Mail:

Looking at the pyramids from a builder’s point of view, and not an archaeologist’s, it’s clear that the current theories are nonsense. Just look at the numbers. Under the current theories, to lay 2 million blocks, the Egyptians would have to have laid a large block once every three minutes.

It would have been impossible to build the pyramids using ramps around the outside, too, because they would have ended up being larger, in some cases, than the pyramids themselves. Plus, what happened to the ramps once the pyramids were finished? I believe the Egyptians built the pyramids like a modern-day builder builds a house.