Category Archives: AFRICA

Study Suggests Hominin Could Walk and Swing Through Trees

Study Suggests Hominin Could Walk and Swing Through Trees

Gizmodo reports that a new study of a human ancestor’s shoulder blade and collarbone suggests that Australopithecus Prometheus was able to swing through trees some 3.7 million years ago.

Discovered in South Africa in the 1990s, the fossilized remains of an individual known as “Little Foot” were carefully excavated from the concrete-like rock over a period of 15 years.

The specimen called StW 573 or Little Foot, was an Australopithecus Prometheus.

Study Suggests Hominin Could Walk and Swing Through Trees
A cast of Little Foot in 2005. It would take over a decade for the real thing to be fully excavated.

The fossil was finally fully excavated in 2018, over 20 years after its discovery when palaeontologists finished extricating the fossil from the breccia it was encased in. Immediately, Little Foot offered a remarkable glimpse into human origins.

Research describing the shoulder joint’s morphology was published this week in the Journal of Human Evolution. The research team inspected Little Foot’s pectoral girdle: literally, the specimen’s shoulder blade and collar bone.

By comparing the girdle’s formation to that in other human relatives, including some of the great apes, the team sussed out how Little Foot and others in its species got around.

“By understanding how the shoulder joints of early hominins are structured, and more broadly how their shoulder blades are capable of moving on their torsos, we can understand how they used their upper limbs while interacting with the environment,” said Kristian Carlson, a biological anthropologist at the University of Southern California and lead author of the new paper, in an email. “This is a crucial question during this period of our evolutionary history.

In its subtle shape, the pectoral girdle of Little Foot indicated to the researchers that the hominin did exploit trees for its survival, perhaps for acquiring a meal or to avoid becoming one. That lines up with research last year on the specimen’s vertebrae, which suggested Little Foot was capable of head movements (useful for climbing) that go beyond modern human capacities. That said, Little Foot was still bipedal, featuring the upright gait associated with humans.

The new finding brings up an interesting comparison with Ardi (a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus), a lesser-known ancient relative from 4.4 million years ago.

Paleoanthropologists recently suggested that Ardi’s hands were built for swinging in trees, though some experts disagreed, saying Ardi was more human-like than ape-like.

Though the fossil record is as ossified as can be, the conclusions drawn from the bones we pull from the ground remain fickle. It’ll take some time to see whether the interpretations of Little Foot’s lifestyle, drawn from these shoulder bones, stick.

Little Foot’s bones suggested it hadn’t lost its ability to swing through trees.

Little Foot’s pectoral girdle is the earliest evidence of such a skeletal structure so close to when hominins split off from ape and bonobo ancestors. That upper limb is a crucial piece of the puzzle, though Carlson said it can only tell us so much.

“As special as Little Foot is, it is only one individual,” he explained. “While we are still intensely investigating other anatomical regions of the Little Foot skeleton, we also must continue to appreciate the growing morphological variability that appears to exist within the early hominin fossil record, for example in Australopithecus.”

Based on their comparisons, Carlson’s team determined that Little Foot’s shoulder structure may be a good indicator for what that structure looked like in even older human relatives, in the 7- to 8-million-year-old time frame.

Such a discovery would make Little Foot look like a spring chicken. But until that happens, looks like we’re stuck with one of the most complete Australopithecine fossils ever found, the continued analysis of which reveals new details and theories with each pass. Woe is us!

Egypt breakthrough: How 2,000-year-old mystery was solved after ‘lost labyrinth’ discovery

Egypt breakthrough: How 2,000-year-old mystery was solved after ‘lost labyrinth’ discovery

The discovery was made in Dahshur, an archaeological site 90km south of Cairo, where the tattered remains of Pharaoh Amenemhat III’s Black Pyramid can be seen today. The huge mortuary temple that originally stood adjacent to this pyramid is believed to have formed the basis of the complex of buildings with galleries and courtyards called a “labyrinth” by famed ancient Greek historian Herodotus.

With no visible remains, the story was thought to simply be a legend passed down by generations until Egyptologist Flinders Petrie uncovered its “foundations” in the 1800s, leading experts to theories the labyrinth was demolished under the reign of Ptolemy II and used to build the nearby city of Shedyt to honour his wife Arsinoe. But, in 2008, archaeologists working on the Mataha Expedition made a stunning find below the sands, researcher Ben Van Kerkwyk revealed on his YouTube channel ‘UnchartedX’ earlier this year.

He said in January: “It is a rare thing for ancient historical mysteries to ever be fully resolved.

“Great enigmas like the pyramids of Egypt seem to somehow resist the passage of time, unchanging as it flows around them like boulders in the river of history.

“Occasionally our civilisation makes some small incremental progress, a new tomb is found or some object discovered destined to become yet another piece in a museum.

The Black Pyramid is located in Dashu

“12 years ago, in 2008, a momentous discovery was made beneath the sands of Egypt, this wasn’t some small incremental step, but represented rather a huge leap forward – an opportunity for historical exploration and learning – the likes of which we have not witnessed in a century.

“The great lost labyrinth of ancient Egypt had been found.”

Mr Van Kerkwyk went on to detail what the area may have looked like some 2,000 years ago.

He added: “This was a gigantic and mythical structure, said by some to have surpassed the achievements of the pyramids, a huge array of thousands of underground halls, temples and chambers, dwarfing all known Egyptian temple sites several times over.

“This structure was visited and witnessed first-hand by the great historians of millennia past, yet ultimately, was lost to the sands of the desert and its physical presence remained unknown for more than 2,000 years.

A huge labyrinth is believed to be below the sand

“Unknown until 12 years ago, the discovery was suppressed and today the incredible potential of this site is being slowly and irrevocably destroyed by both inaction by authorities and by the water table in the area that’s rising.

“Compared with Giza or any of the other well-known ancient Egyptian sites, there really isn’t a lot to immediately take in.”

Mr Van Kerkwyk detailed how Mr Petrie first stumbled across the find.

He added: “Some fragments of once-mighty granite columns carved in palm or lotus shapes along with other small fragments of ancient stonework are left lying in a small, open-air museum.

“The site is dominated by the remains of the pyramid of Amenemhat III with only the mud-brick internal structure remaining to see.

Possible location of the tunnels

“The remains of the labyrinth have been discovered in the sandy areas to the south of the pyramid.

“The first to find any real evidence of this was the great Flinders Petrie, who, in the late 1800s, discovered the remains of a huge stone foundation, more than 300 metres broad around four metres beneath the sand.

“He concluded that this was the remnants of the foundations for the labyrinth, with the structure itself being long since quarried and destroyed.”

Archaeologists found evidence of a huge structure hiding below the sand in 2008, but Mr Van Kerkwyk said the area has never been excavated.

The monuments cannot be seen today
There are few ancient remains visible

He continued: “However, new evidence collected in modern times is challenging his conclusion and it now seems likely that what Petrie found was not the foundation, but instead was part of the ceiling or roof.

“These same areas were scanned in 2008, using ground-penetrating radar, by the Mataha Expedition, a collaboration between Egyptian authorities, the Ghent University of Belgium and funded by contemporary artist Louis De Cordier.

“The results of this expedition clearly indicate the presence of grid-like and ordered structures deep beneath the sand in levels much deeper than Petrie ever excavated.

“Although this expedition was conducted with the full cooperation and permission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the official results and conclusion of this legitimate scientific study have never been released.”

Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found at the temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt

Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found at the temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt

Kom Ombo is one of the more unusual temples in Egypt. Due to the conflict between Sobek and Horus, the ancient Egyptians felt it necessary to separate their temple spaces within one temple. The Kom Ombo temple has two entrances, two courts, two colonnades, two Hypostyle halls and two sanctuaries, one side for each god.

Location

Built to overlook the Nile, the temple is located in the city of Kom Ombo, about 30 miles north of Aswan. Its dual design is dedicated to Sobek and Horus and is perfectly symmetrical along its main axis.

Kom Ombo History

The Kom Ombo Temple was built between 332 BC and 395 AD, during the Ptolemaic period, by Ptolemy VI Philometer.

Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos continued the work and built the exterior and interior Hypostyle halls. The temple was built with local limestone by men who rode on elephants, considered to be a Ptolemaic innovation.

Little remains of the original structure. Unfortunately, a good portion of the temple has been destroyed over the millennia by earthquakes, erosion by the Nile River and builders who stole stone for unrelated projects. In 1893, a French archaeologist by the name of Jacques de Morgan cleared the Southern portion (the half dedicated to Sobek) of debris and restored it.

The Kom Ombo Temple

During the Roman period, additions to the temple were made in the form of decorations in the main court. At this time, an outer corridor was also added.

Augustus built an outer enclosure wall and a portion of the court, but those structures have since been lost. The Coptic Church took over the temple and converted it into its own place of worship. It was at this time that many of the ancient reliefs were defaced and removed.

Relief at Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo Temple Dedications

Kom Ombo was dedicated mainly to Sobek and Horus; however, some of their family members were part of the temple’s dedication as well.

The Southern portion of the temple was not just dedicated to Sobek, the god of fertility, but also to Hathor, the goddess of love and joy, and Khonsu, the god of the moon.

In this portion of the temple, there are many crocodile representations to pay homage to Sobek. This part of the temple is also called “House of the Crocodile.”

Depiction of Horus and Sobek

The Northern portion of the temple was dedicated mainly to Horus, god of the sun, and also Tasenetnofret, meaning “the good sister,” and a manifestation of Hathor, and Panebtaway, meaning “the Lord of two lands” which represented Egyptian kingship. In this part of the temple, there are many representations of falcons to pay homage to the falcon-headed god, Horus. This part of the temple is also called “Castle of the Falcon.”

Relief of Horus

Kom Ombo Temple Layout

Just after crossing the gate inside the temple, there is a small room dedicated to Hathor. Today, it is used to display the many mummified crocodiles that were found in the temple’s vicinity.

A well in front of the main entrance was once used as a Nilometer. The first pylon, which has since been destroyed, now consists only of foundation stones and a portion of a wall.

Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found at the temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt
– Mummified Crocodiles at Kom Ombo

Entering into the main court, there are 16 painted columns, eight on each side of the court. A granite altar sits in the centre of the main court, likely where the sacred boat was placed.

On the rear wall of the main court are five lotus-shaped columns along with a screen wall. Two entrances, one for each deity, open up here. Through both entrances lies the first Hypostyle hall.

There are ten lotus-shaped columns here with the middle two separating the two halves of the hall.

Columns at Kom Ombo

Separate entrances guide visitors into the second Hypostyle hall known as “The Hall of Offering”. Beyond this Hall of Offering are three antechambers, now all nearly destroyed.

Curiously, the twin sanctuaries which are found beyond the antechambers are separated by a hidden chamber.

A dual passageway runs the perimeter of the entire temple and there are seven additional rooms along the interior passage. A staircase leads to the roof.

2,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Child Mummy Revealed in Incredible Detail Through 3D Scanning Technology

2,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Child Mummy Revealed in Incredible Detail Through 3D Scanning Technology

The remains of a little child, about 5 years old, was mummified and buried in Egypt about 2,000 years ago. She was dressed in fine linen with circular earrings, a belt, and an amulet, and all of her internal organs were removed.

2,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Child Mummy Revealed in Incredible Detail Through 3D Scanning Technology
The CT scans were merged with 3D scans of the child mummy’s surface to create a single 3D model.

Now, a new technique that merges colorful 3D scans of the mummy’s surface with CT scans that look beneath the mummy’s wrappings will allow people to examine the mummy in amazing detail.

Though the new technique is being used to help tell this mummy’s story, researchers believe it will have many applications in archaeology, biology, geology, paleontology, and manufacturing.

Peering inside a mummy

Scientists peered beneath the mummy’s wrappings using CT scans in 2005. And more recently, they complemented that imaging with an Artec Eva handheld 3D scanner, which could take images of parts of the mummy that could be scanned without touching the mummy.

While a CT scanner is better at penetrating beneath the surface of the mummy wrappings, the handheld 3D scanner is able to scan in color, capturing details that a CT scanner cannot detect. Both scans were then combined into a single 3D model using software developed by Volume Graphics.

An Artec Eva handheld 3D scanner was used to scan the mummy’s surface.

The model will allow visitors to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California, where the mummy is now located, to see the mummy in exceptional detail simply by using an iPad.

“Guests will be able to move an iPad over the mummy case, in order to see the associated scans,” Julie Scott, executive director of the museum, said in a statement.

“Our hope is that this new technology will help inspire guests to deeply relate to this little girl who lived so many years ago,” said Scott, noting that the girl’s real name is unknown, though scientists today call her “Sherit,” which is an ancient Egyptian name for “little one.”

Sherit, who may have died of dysentery and lived at a time when the Roman Empire ruled Egypt, is one of the first people/artifacts to be analyzed with the new technique.

Beyond mummies

The new technique will have many applications, the researchers said. It “allows for a more life-like, accurate representation of all kinds of objects and thus improves our understanding of these scanned objects,” Christof Reinhart, CEO of Volume Graphics, told Live Science.

“We can only imagine how this function will be used. Obvious applications in science would be archaeology, biology, geology, or paleontology.

“Industrial applications could arise in quality assurance — [for example], when optical features on the surface of an object are to be associated with features inside the object,” Reinhart added.

Egyptian Pompeii: 3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’ discovered in Egypt

Egyptian Pompeii: 3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’ discovered in Egypt

A team has discovered the country’s largest known ancient site, So’oud Atun, or the “Rise of Aten,” in what experts are lauding as one of the most important Egyptian archaeological finds of the past century.

Egyptian Pompeii: 3,000-year-old 'lost golden city' discovered in Egypt
A team uncovered the lost city while searching for a mortuary temple last September.

Zahi Hawass, a famous—and controversial—Egyptian scholar, announced the discovery of the “lost golden city” near Luxor, site of the ancient city of Thebes, on Thursday. As BBC News reports, the city was established during the reign of Amenhotep III, between roughly 1391 and 1353 B.C.

Many of the Rise of Aten’s walls are well preserved. So far, the research team has identified a bakery, an administrative district, and a residential area, as well as scarab beetle amulets, pottery, and other everyday items.

Betsy M. Bryan, an Egyptian art specialist at Johns Hopkins University who visited the site but was not involved in the excavation, says in a statement that the find is “the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun.” (Through his father, Akhenaten, Tut is actually the grandson of Amenhotep.)

Archaeologists discovered the city in September while searching for a mortuary temple. It’s located close to a number of important ancient Egyptian monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon, the Madinat Habu Temple, and the Ramesseum.

Amenhotep, the ninth king of the 18th Dynasty, ruled during the second half of the New Kingdom period. He sponsored the construction of a number of huge temples and public buildings. Toward the end of his reign, he shared power with his eldest son, the soon-to-be Amenhotep IV.

Per National Geographic’s Erin Blakemore, the younger Amenhotep dramatically changed the country’s direction following his father’s death.

He abandoned all the Egyptian gods except the sun god Aten; changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, meaning “devoted to Aten”; and oversaw the rise of a new artistic movement. He and his wife, Nefertiti, also moved Egypt’s royal seat from Thebes to a new city called Akhetaten (now known as Amarna).

The city’s walls are well preserved, allowing archaeologists to see where its different districts were located.

The city’s walls are well preserved, allowing archaeologists to see where its different districts were located. (Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)

As Mia Alberti and Jack Guy report for CNN, the team found an inscription in So’oud Atun dated to 1337 B.C., just one year before Akhenaten established his capital at Amarna.

In the statement, Bryan notes that the newly discovered city offers a “rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians” at the height of the empire, in addition to shedding light on the mystery of why the pharaoh and his queen moved to Amarna.

After Akhenaten’s death, his son Tutankhamun’s government reversed his transformation of the country. Tutankhamen and his successor, Ay, continued to use the Rise of Aten, notes BBC News.

Egypt Today’s Mustafa Marie reports that the archaeologists examined hieroglyphic inscriptions on the lids of wine vessels and other containers for clues to the city’s history.

One vase containing dried or boiled meat was inscribed with the names of two people from the city and information showing that Amenhotep and Akhenaten ruled the city jointly at the time it was made.

The team also found a production area for mud bricks used to build temples and other structures. The bricks bear Amenhotep’s seal. Casting molds show that workers in the city produced amulets and decorations for temples and tombs; evidence of spinning and weaving exists at the site, too.

A zig-zag wall with just one entry point encloses an administrative and residential area, suggesting that authorities maintained security by limiting movement in and out.

One room within the city contains the burial of two cows or bulls—an unusual find that researchers are still investigating. In another odd discovery, the team found a human burial with the remains of a rope wrapped around the knees.

The team has not yet been able to fully explore a group of rock-cut tombs accessible through stairs carved into the rock.

“There’s no doubt about it; it really is a phenomenal find,” Salima Ikram, an archaeologist at the American University in Cairo, tells National Geographic. “It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii.”

Infra-red satellite imagery unveils 17 lost Egyptian pyramids

Infra-red satellite imagery unveils 17 lost Egyptian pyramids

Through his large army, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Egypt in 1798, bringing more than 150 scientists and scholars with him. The academics spread across Egypt, writing about the country’s geological and cultural history, mapping archaeological sites from Alexandria to Aswan, and bringing areas such as the Valley of the Kings to the scientific world for the first time.

The infrared image on the right reveals the ancient city streets of Tanis near modern-day San El Hagar
Satellite imagery reveals a maze of streets and buildings at the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis.

An American research team announced that it has succeeded in a high-tech follow-on to Bonaparte’s grand survey. By analyzing high-resolution satellite imagery covering all of Egypt, researchers have reportedly discovered up to 17 lost pyramids, nearly 3000 ancient settlements, and 1000 tombs.

The effort was led by archaeologist Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The team’s work will be highlighted in a BBC documentary airing in the United Kingdom and later on the Discovery Channel in the United States.

The findings are groundbreaking, says Egyptologist Willeke Wendrich of the University of California, Los Angeles, who has followed closely the team’s as-yet-unpublished work. “It gives us the opportunity to get at the settlement of ancient Egypt without digging even a centimeter,” she says.

In the wake of the finds, the Egyptian government reached an agreement this week to work with Parcak and other American researchers to develop a nationwide satellite imagery project to monitor archaeological sites from space and protect them from looting and illegal house construction, and other encroachments.

“We are going to be teaching young Egyptians how to look at the satellite data and analyze it so they can keep an eye on these sites,” Parcak says. She and her colleagues plan to raise funds privately to support the effort.

Parcak began her study 11 years ago, searching for traces of ancient village walls buried under Egypt’s fields and desert sands. Obtaining images from both NASA and QuickBird satellites, she combined and analyzed data from the visible imagery as well as the infrared and thermal parts of the light spectrum. Through trial and error, she discovered that the most informative images were taken during the relatively wet weeks of late winter.

During this period, buried mud-brick walls absorbed more moisture than usual, producing a subtle chemical signature in the overlying soil that showed up in high-resolution, infrared satellite images. These places became “our hot spots, the places that we could end up exploring on foot,” Parcak says.

An infra-red satellite image shows a buried pyramid, located in the centre of the highlight box.

The team found 17 buried pyramid-shaped structures, including one at Saqqara, famed for its numerous pyramids. That sighting was confirmed by a team of Egyptian archaeologists who excavated part of what is now thought to be a late Middle Kingdom pyramid at the site.

The other 16 structures look like pyramids from space but could be elite tombs, Parcak says. “Let’s be honest, we won’t know if those pyramids are pyramids until we excavate,” she says.

To further test some of the most recent satellite finds, Parcak enlisted the help of a French archaeological team already digging at a 3000-year-old site known as Tanis.

The satellite data revealed a warren of mud-brick walls, mazelike streets, and large residences that may have housed the wealthy. So the French team chose a structure from the images and excavated there.

Beneath about 30 centimeters of sediments, they discovered mud-brick walls. “They found an almost 100% correlation between what we see on the imagery and what we see on the ground,” Parcak says. “So this gives a significant amount of credence to what we see in the whole image.”

“It’s really incredible work, particularly the results for Tanis,” says Peter Lacovara, an Egyptologist at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, who is not a member of Parcak’s team. “You can see the entire city plan under the sands.”

The greatest payoff may become apparent in years to come, adds Lacovara, as the Egyptian government develops a space-based archaeological monitoring system founded on satellite data.

“Ancient sites are all over the place in Egypt,” Lacovara concludes. “And there’s just not enough time and money to monitor them on the ground.”

A new geological study shows that the great sphinx of Giza is 800,000 years old

A New geological study shows that the great sphinx of Giza is 800,000 Years old

One of the most mysterious and enigmatic monuments on the planet’s surface is undoubtedly the Great Sphinx at the Giza plateau in Egypt. It is an ancient construction that has baffled researchers ever since its discovery and until today, no one has been able to accurately date the Sphinx, since there are no written records or mentions in the past about it.

Now, two Ukrainian researchers have proposed a new provocative theory where the two scientists propose that the Great Sphinx of Egypt is around 800,000 years old. A Revolutionary theory that is backed up by science.

The authors of this paper are scientists Manichev Vjacheslav I. (Institute of Environmental Geochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) and Alexander G. Parkhomenko (Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).

The starting point of these two experts is the paradigm shift initiated by West and Schoch, a ‘debate’ intended to overcome the orthodox view of Egyptology referring to the possible remote origins of the Egyptian civilization and, on the other, physical evidence of water erosion present at the monuments of the Giza Plateau.

According to Manichev and Parkhomenko:

“The problem of dating the Great Egyptian Sphinx construction is still valid, despite the long-term history of its research. The geological approach in connection to other scientific-natural methods permits answering the question about the relative age of the Sphinx. The conducted visual investigation of the Sphinx allowed the conclusion about the important role of water from large water bodies which partially flooded the monument with the formation of wave-cut hollows on its vertical walls.”

“The morphology of these formations has an analogy with similar such hollows formed by the sea in the coastal zones. The genetic resemblance of the compared erosion forms and the geological structure and petrographic composition of sedimentary rock complexes lead to a conclusion that the decisive factor of destruction of the historic monument is the wave energy rather than sand abrasion in the Eolian process. Voluminous geological literature confirms the fact of the existence of long-living fresh-water lakes in various periods of the Quaternary from the Lower Pleistocene to the Holocene. These lakes were distributed in the territories adjacent to the Nile. The absolute mark of the upper large erosion hollow of the Sphinx corresponds to the level of water surface which took place in the Early Pleistocene. The Great Egyptian Sphinx had already stood on the Giza Plateau by that geological (historical) time.”

A strong argument was made by Ukrainian scientists in regards to the Sphinx, arguments based upon geological studies which support Schoch’s view regarding the Sphinx and its age.

The western wall of the Sphinx enclosure, showing erosion consistently along its length. Courtesy and copyright of Colin Reader.

Manichev and Parkhomenko focus on the deteriorated aspect of the body of the Sphinx, leaving aside the erosive features where the Sphinx is located, which had been studied previously by Schoch. Ukrainian scholars focused on the undulating terrain of the Sphinx which displays the mysterious pattern.

Mainstream scientists offer explanations for this sharp feature and state that it is based on the abrasive effect of the wind and sand, the undulations were formed because the harder layers of rock are better at withstanding the erosions while the softer layers would have been more affected, forming voids.

However, as noted by Manichev and Parkhomenko, this argument does not explain why the front of the Sphinx’s head lacks such features. In regards to the argument made by Schoch about the heavy rain period which occurred around 13,000 BC, the Ukrainian scientists recognized Schoch hypothesis partially suggesting that the erosive features of the Sphinx go further back than 13,000 BC.

Manichev and Parkhomenko argue are that the mountainous and coastal areas of the Caucasus and Crimea, which they know well, have a type of wind erosion that differs morphologically from the erosive features noted on the Sphinx. Essentially, they argue that such wind erosion has a very soft effect, regardless of the rocks’ geological composition.

“In our geological field expeditions in different mountains and littoral zones of the Crimea and Caucasus we could often observe the forms of Eolian weathering which morphology differs considerably from the weathering taking place on the GES. Most natural forms of weathering are of smoothed character, independent of the lithological composition of the rocks.”

They continue further and explain:

“Our personal experience in the scientific investigation of the geology of the sea coasts gives reasons to draw an analogy with the GES and to suggest another mechanism of its destruction. Specialists-geologists, who work in the field of sea-coast geomorphology, know such forms of relief as wave-cut hollows (Morskaya Geomorfologiya, 1980). They can be one- and multi-storey. They are arranged horizontally to the seawater surface if the coast makes a vertical wall (cliff). Especially deep wave-cut hollows are formed in precipitous cliffs built by the strata of carbonaceous rocks. Such forms of coast relief are well-known and studied in detail on the Black-Sea coast of the Caucasus and Crimea (Popov, 1953; Zenkovich, 1960). A general model of formation of the wave-cut hollows in the rocks of the Caucasian flysch is given by Popov (1953, 162; Fig. 3). In dynamics of the process of wave-cut hollows formation, one can notice such a characteristic feature that the wave energy is directed to the rock stratum at the level of the water surface. Besides, both saline and freshwater can dissolve the rocks.”

Manichev and Parkhomenko propose a new natural mechanism that may explain the undulations and mysterious features of the Sphinx. This mechanism is the impact of waves on the rocks of the coast.
Basically, this could produce, in a period of thousands of years the formation of one or more layers of ripples, a fact that is clearly visible, for example, on the shores of the Black Sea. This process, which acts horizontally (that is when the waves hit the rock up to the surface), will produce a rock’s wear or dissolution.

The fact is that the observation of these cavities in the Great Sphinx made the Ukrainian scientists think that this great monument could have been affected by the above-said process in the context of immersion in large bodies of water, not the regular flooding of the Nile.

Manichev and Parkhomenko suggest that the geological composition of the body of the Sphinx is a sequence of layers composed of limestone with small interlayers of clays.

Manichev and Parkhomenko explain that these rocks possess a different degree of resistance to the water effect and say that if the formation of the hollow were due to sand abrasion only, the hollows had to correspond to the strata of a certain lithological composition.
They suggest that the Great Sphinx hollows are formed in fact within several strata, or occupy some part of the stratum of homogeneous composition.

The Back of the Great Sphinx of Egypt

Manichev and Parkhomenko firmly believe that the Sphinx had to be submerged for a long time underwater and, to support this hypothesis, they point towards existing literature of geological studies of the Giza Plateau.

According to these studies at the end of the Pliocene geologic period (between 5.2 and 1.6 million years ago), seawater entered the Nile valley and gradually creating flooding in the area. This led to the formation of lacustrine deposits which are at the mark of 180 m above the present level of the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Manichev and Parkhomenko, the sea level during the Calabrian phase is the closest to the present mark with the highest GES hollow at its level. A high level of seawater also caused the Nile to overflow and created long-living water-bodies. As to time it corresponds to 800000 years.

What we have here is evidence that contradicts the conventional theory of deterioration caused by Sand and Water, a theory already criticized by West and Schoch, who recalled that during many centuries, the body of the Sphinx was buried by the sands of the desert, so Wind and Sand erosion would not have done any damage to the enigmatic Sphinx.

However, where Schoch clearly saw the action of streams of water caused by continuous rains, Ukrainian geologists see the effect of erosion caused by the direct contact of the waters of the lakes formed in the Pleistocene on the body Sphinx.

This means that the Great Sphinx of Egypt is one of the oldest monuments on Earth’s surface, pushing back drastically the origin of mankind and civilization.

Some might say that the theory proposed by Manichev and Parkhomenko is very extreme because it places the Great Sphinx in an era where there were no humans, according to currently accepted evolutionary patterns.

Furthermore, as it has been demonstrated, the two megalithic temples, located adjacent to the Great Sphinx were built by the same stone which means that the new dating of the Sphinx drags these monuments with the Sphinx back 800,000 years. In other words, this means that ancient civilizations inhabited our planet much longer than mainstream scientists are willing to accept.

Facial Reconstruction May Depict Pharaoh Akhenaten

Facial Reconstruction May Depict Pharaoh Akhenaten

A digital model has been made of a human skull recovered in 1907 from tomb KV 55 in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, according to a Live Science report.

Facial Reconstruction May Depict Pharaoh Akhenaten
The reconstruction of KV 55, thought to be the pharaoh Akhenaten.

Francesco Galassi of Sicily’s Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology, Bioarchaeology Research Center, and 3-D forensic artist Cicero Moraes, used the Manchester method to add facial muscles and ligaments to the model skull according to the rules of anatomy, Galassi explained.

His remains were found in 1907 in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in tomb KV 55, just a few feet from the tomb of Tutankhamen. More than a century after the tomb’s discovery, the genetic analysis suggested that the skeleton inside belonged to King Tut’s biological father, and other clues in the tomb told archaeologists that the man was Akhenaten, who reigned from 1353 B.C. to 1335 B.C. and was the first king to introduce monotheism in Egypt.

However, some experts have challenged these conclusions, claiming that the true identity of the individual is still uncertain. 

The reconstruction, which took months to design, was created by scientists at the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology, Bioarchaeology Research Center (FAPAB) in Sicily.

They worked closely with Cicero Moraes, a 3D forensic artist from Brazil who is known for his work reconstructing faces from the distant past, FAPAB representatives wrote on Facebook.

Unlike previous facial reconstructions of KV 55, the new model omits hair, jewellery and other adornments, in order “to focus on the facial traits of this individual,” according to the post.

Scientists used a reconstruction process called the Manchester method to bring KV 55’s face into the present “from the shadows of history,” said Francesco Galassi, director and co-founder of the FAPAB Research Center, an associate professor of archaeology at Flinders University in Australia, and an adjunct professor of forensic anthropology at the Magna Graecia University of Catanzaro in Calabria, Italy.

During this process, “facial muscles and ligaments are modelled on the skull model according to the rules of anatomy,” Galassi told Live Science in an email. “The skin is placed on top of this, and the tissue thicknesses are average values that have been scientifically determined.”

While building the reconstruction, the researchers referred to “a massive amount of data” for KV 55, including notes from prior physical examinations of the skull, detailed measurements, scaled photographs and X-rays of the skeleton, Galassi said.

Facial muscles and ligaments were modelled digitally on KV 55’s skull.

A shadowy past

Akhenaten ascended to the throne as Amenhotep IV and took his new name, which means “the Servant of Aten” — an Egyptian sun god — early in his reign. He then began dismantling the priesthood that served Egypt’s pantheon of deities, in order to establish monotheistic worship of Aten, according to The Ohio State University’s Department of History.

Archaeologists found KV 55 in an undecorated tomb that contained bricks engraved with magic spells bearing Akhenaten’s name. Another coffin and canopic jars — vessels for holding mummified organs — contained the remains of a woman named Kiya, who was identified as Akhenaten’s concubine, according to a FAPAB statement released on March 10. 

KV 55 had been mummified, but the preserved flesh disintegrated in the excavators’ hands, leaving only the skeleton behind. Based on objects in the tomb and the sex of the skeleton, some archaeologists concluded that it must represent Akhenaten.

However, analysis of the teeth and bones revealed that the man was younger than expected. He was around 26 years old when he died — and possibly only 19 to 22 years old, whereas records suggest Akhenaten ruled for 17 years and fathered a daughter during the first year of his reign, Galassi said.

“Some archaeologists tend to assume that he began his reign as a young adult rather than as a child. For this reason, there have been continued attempts [to] consider KV 55 older than the actual anatomy indicates,” he said. 

When archaeologists excavated KV 55 in 1907, the mummy crumbled into dust. Today, only the bones remain.

Other experts have proposed that KV 55 could be Smenkhkare, a younger brother of Akhenaten, but there is little evidence that the brother existed at all, Galassi said.

Today, Smenkhkare is more commonly thought to be not a real person, but a constructed identity for Queen Nefertiti, who may have assumed this name when she ascended to the throne after Akhenaten’s death.

This would effectively rule out the “younger brother” hypothesis for KV 55, Galassi said.

Genetic analysis suggested that KV 55 was the son of Amenhotep III and the father of Tutankhamen, providing more evidence that he was Akhenaten, according to a study published in 2010 in the journal JAMA.

However, this conclusion is also not without controversy, as genetic data for Egyptian mummies can be “complicated” by the fact that sibling incest was a common practice in royal dynasties, according to the statement.