Category Archives: AFRICA

Lost City in South Africa Discovered Hiding Beneath Thick Vegetation

Lost City in South Africa Discovered Hiding Beneath Thick Vegetation

What was once thought to be a scattering of ancient stone huts on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, has turned out to be the remnants of a thriving city, lost to history for 200 years?

Beneath the dense vegetation, there isn’t much to see with the naked eye. And after three decades of careful research, archaeologists in South Africa have barely scratched the surface of this long-lost settlement.

Now, however, thanks to the cutting-edge laser technology of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), this site has been revealed for what it truly was: a veritable metropolis made up of hundreds of households and trade networks.

The vast area where the lost city, known as Kweneng, once stood.

The research has brought this city, called Kweneng, back to life. Home to a Tswana-speaking ethnic group, Kweneng’s 800 homesteads are now thought to have housed no less than 10,000 people.

“What this means is filling in a huge historical gap, especially for southern Africa, because we know the pre-colonial history of southern Africa has no written record,” explains Fern Imbali Sixwanha, an archaeologist at the University of Witwatersrand involved in the research.

“So now we’re starting to fill in the gaps using this LIDAR technology.”

It’s the same technology that scientists used to locate that ancient Mayan megalopolis early last year. Today, it’s helping to fill a massive historical blindspot in southern Africa.

Bouncing billions of laser light pulses off the lower western slopes of the Suikerbosrand hills near Johannesburg, the researchers were able to virtually ‘see’ through all the vegetation and preconceived notions that have obscured this once-bustling city.

Researchers created 3D images of the city which had been lost to the world for 200 year

Studies now reveal that Kweneng, which spanned about 20 square kilometers (8 square miles), was at its prime between the 15th and 19th centuries. And in its heyday, the researchers think it was probably a rich and thriving city.

The researchers documented the structural remains of the lost city.

Several pairs of parallel rock walls suggest there were numerous passageways into the city, many of which look like cattle drives, built to herd cows and other livestock through parts of the city.

What’s more, in the middle of Kweneng are remnants of two massive enclosures, which together take up a space estimated at 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet). Archaeologists on the case think these may have been kraals that housed nearly a thousand head of cattle.

But just like many other Tswana cities, this one is also thought to have fallen into decline after civil unrest.

Gone are the citizens, the stone towers, the homesteads, the livestock, the wealth. Thanks to LIDAR, however, history will live on.

“One of the most enlightening things is, as I’ve been able to understand what we were doing in our past you know, it gives us a broader idea of the people of southern Africa who they were and the types of activities that they did because you can now rediscover that activity line and just general interaction within the society,” Sixwanha told Africa News.

South African ‘lost city’ found using laser technology

Archaeologists Uncover 1,700-year-old Roman Villa With Stunning Mosaics in Libya

Archaeologists Uncover 1,700-year-old Roman Villa With Stunning Mosaics in Libya

In the 1700-year-old villa in Ptolemais, a major trading port of the ancient Romans on the Libyan coast, archaeologists have uncovered statues, elaborate mosaics, and other treasures.

Mosaics depicting Dionysus and a sleeping Ariadne discovered in Ptolemais

Artifacts and a hoard of 553 silver and bronze coins from Republican times were discovered in a vast building 600 square metre dating back to the 3rd century C.E.

Archaeologist Jerzy Zelazowski of the University of Warsaw said: Most of the coins have been found in a room in the house where produced terracotta lamps. The coins may have been the earnings of local craftsmen.

The ancient city was established almost 2,300 years ago, at the turn of the 4th century B.C.E., by ancient Greeks. Its original name is not known, but it gained the name “Ptolemais” during the reign of the Ptolemaic empire over Egypt.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom had been founded in 305 B.C.E. by Ptolemy I Soter, whose Hellenistic dynasty ruled a vast area stretching from Syria to Nubia, with its capital in Alexandria.

Statuetka Asklepiosa- Stone sculpture of Asklepion.
Oil lamp depicting gladiatorial combat.

The Ptolemaic rulers declared themselves successors to the Egyptian Pharaohs: the famed Cleopatra was the daughter of the late Ptolemaic ruler Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos.

Ptolemais

As the power of the Romans rose, however, that of the Ptolemys waned, and they began losing territory to Macedonia and the Seleucids. Hoping to preserve what they had, the Ptolemies became vassals of the Romans.

Cleopatra’s father would pay the Romans through the nose in order to secure his dynasty, but after his death, Cleopatra ultimately failed to hold onto power.

In 96 B.C.E. the entire province of Cyrenaica, including Ptolemais, was handed over to the Romans peacefully (400 years before the house in question was built).

Rome however showed little interest in their new province, which deteriorated into a pirate’s nest. Not until the Wars of Mithradates (between the Roman Empire and the tiny Kingdon of Pontus south of the Black Sea, ruled by King Mithradates IV)  in the 1st century C.E., did the Romans make an effort to restore order to Cyrenaica, to Romanize the locals and while about it, to resolve conflicts brewing between the Greeks and Jews living in the province.

Images of the gods

The villa with the recovered mosaics was built hundreds of years later around a courtyard in classic Roman peristyle arrangement. Among the loveliest of its mosaics is one depicting a sleeping Dionysus and Ariadne – a daughter of King Minos, who according to legend, would become the god’s wife.

Another mosaic depicts the Achillean cycle (the collection of epic poems about Achilles’ adventures) representing Achilles on the island of Skyros – where his mother, fearful that he would meet his death at Troy, dressed him as a girl to avoid military recruiters.

Two other mosaics in the villa, one in the courtyard and one in the dining room, bear the name “Leukaktios”. The name was superimposed on the stonework at a later date, possibly due to ownership change during its centuries of occupation.

Bronze sestercii
Head of Dionysus.

The villa walls bore colorful frescos, imitating marble revetments with geometric designs. Several walls are covered with figural paintings, mainly depicting various species of birds.

The end of this elegant house, after centuries of occupation, was probably due to the endless earthquakes plaguing the region. Two in particular, striking in the mid 3rd-century C.E. and in 365 C.E, may have doomed the house: the treasure of silver and bronze coins were found within the destruction layers inside the house.

Stone sculpture of male figure depicted in armour reminiscent of the Hellenistic linothorax type, worn, i.a., by Alexander the Great

The city of Ptolemais, however, survived. At least for a while. It would remain the capital of Cyrenaica until the year 428 when it was destroyed by the Vandals, who invaded North Africa too from their Germanic home base.

Ptolemais would be rebuilt under Justinian I, the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565. But after the Arab forces razed it again in the 7th century, that would be its end.

3,000 Years old Buhen: The Sunken fortress under the Nile

3,000 Years old Buhen: The Sunken fortress under the Nile

During the Middle Kingdom era, King Senusret III established castles and fortresses to protect Egypt from the south, such as the Buhen fortress that sunk in the Nile as a result of a flood.

Buhen was a massive fortress located on the west bank of the Nile in Lower Nubia (northern Sudan). The walls of the fortress were made of brick and stone walls, approximately 5 meters (16 ft) thick and about 10 meters (33 ft) high, covering an area of about 13,000 square meters (140,000 sq ft) and extending more than 150 meters (490 ft).

It was constructed during the reigns of King Senusret III in the Middle Kingdom era (12th dynasty) to protect Egypt and the commercial ships from rebel Nubians in the south, according to “Ancient Egypt” by David P. Silverman.

Photo for Buhen fortress from Nubia museum – Walaa Ali
Buhen fortress

The massive fortress was built in 1860 BC. It had about 1,000 soldiers, 300 archers, and their families. Queen Hatshepsut ordered a Horus temple to be built inside the Buhen fortress for worship and prayer, and also for traders to take a break while transporting their goods. Interestingly, during that time, Egypt imported and exported many products, such as oils, ivory, pottery, and tiger, and elephant skins.

The Middle Kingdom era saw many other fortresses besides Buhen, such as Mirgissa, Shalfak, Uronarti, Askut, Dabenarti, and ending with the paired fortresses of Semna and Kumma, located on opposite sides of the Nile River. Each fortress was in visual contact with the immediately adjacent forts.

Ahmed Saleh, director of antiquities in Aswan, told Egypt online portal that the Buhen fortress no longer exists because it was submerged under the waters of Lake Nasser in 1964 due to the flood; the Buhen fortress is now located 300 meters from the High Dam. He added that the Ministry of Antiquities did not search for it because it was certainly destroyed, like several other Egyptian antiquities. Among the most important ancient monuments lost under Lake Nasser are Nubian fortresses.

“But if the Ministry planned to look for antiquities under the waters of Lake Nasser, they could find nothing other than bones, noting that the level of water was higher than the level of the ground.

Therefore, the Egyptian government built the High Dam, but it, unfortunately, swept away several pharaonic artifacts; still, the Ministry of Antiquities saved many artifacts, in cooperation with more than 22 foreign research teams, such as the UNESCO Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia, which began in the 1960s.

 Fortress in the Middle and the New Kingdom( about 1200 BC)

The site was entirely submerged beneath the reservoir waters and rendered inaccessible. However, the campaign saved many temples, including the Hatshepsut and Philae temples, which were rescued and moved to places nearby,” Saleh added.

History of Egypt in the Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom era is called the era of economic prosperity because of many economic projects, such as irrigation, trade, industry, and agriculture. Among the most famous kings of the Middle Kingdom were King Mentuhotep II, who restored the unity of the country and spread security after the chaos that plagued Egypt in the era of the Old Kingdom, and King Senusret III, who was one of the greatest kings of Egypt.

Senusret III took care of the army to protect Egypt and led many campaigns to secure its borders. He also ordered the digging of the Sesostris Canal to link the Red Sea and the Nile, as well as building a dam to protect the land in Fayoum from the flood.

Head of King Senusret III in Gulbenkian Museum.

The Sesostris Canal was the source of the idea to build the Suez Canal to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, which became the most important navigational channel in the world and an important source of income for Egypt.

King Amenemhat III ruled from c. 1860 BCE to c. 1814 BCE. He was interested in agriculture and irrigation, and he ordered the building of the first pyramid at Dahshur, the so-called “Black Pyramid”, near Fayoum.

Around the 15th year of his reign, the king decided to build a new pyramid at Hawara, as well as a huge temple called “Labyrinth,” named so due to a large number of rooms, roads, and corners inside it, making it difficult for any visitor to exit.

Unfortunately, as a result of the kings’ weaknesses and greed, chaos spread in the country, which allowed the Hyksos, who came from Asia, to occupy Northern Egypt. The Hyksos abused the Egyptians very much and destroyed many temples and several ancient antiquities.

The Egyptians were determined to fight and expel the Hyksos from their country. The struggle started from Upper Egypt, led by Seqenenre Tao, who was martyred in the war with the Hyksos, but his wife Ahhotep encouraged the Egyptians to continue the struggle.

She urged her eldest son, Kamose, to continue the struggle, but he was also martyred in one of the battles. Then, the army was taken over by the younger son of Seqenenre Tao, Ahmose I, who continued to fight the Hyksos until they were expelled from Egypt. He then ruled the country.

One of the greatest civilizations throughout history is the ancient Egyptian civilization, which has stunned the entire world for ages. During the Middle Kingdom era, when Egypt was at the highest degree of culture and development, and kings were interested in projects of benefit to the people, handicrafts were developed and literature and art flourished.

14 Fully Intact and Sealed Coffins Discovered after 2,500 Years in Egypt’s Saqqara

14 Fully Intact and Sealed Coffins Discovered after 2,500 Years in Egypt’s Saqqara

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered almost 30 sarcophagi believed to have been buried for around 2,500 years, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

The cache of closed coffins was unearthed from an 11-meter-deep (36 feet) burial shaft in Saqqara, a vast necropolis about 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Cairo.

Having announced the discovery of over a dozen sarcophagi at the site earlier this month, the ministry revealed via Facebook on Sunday that it had unearthed a further 14, raising the total number found in the shaft to 27.

The sarcophagi were discovered in an 11-meter (36 feet) shaft in Saqqara.

Despite staying underground for millennia, the coffins have retained some of their original colors. Archaeologists also uncovered a collection of smaller artifacts at the site, according to a ministry statement.

Prior to Sunday’s announcement, Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany had already described discoveries at the site as being “the largest number of coffins in one burial since the discovery of the Al-Asasif cachette,” referring to the 2019 discovery of 30 coffins, with mummies inside, that authorities then called Egypt’s largest find in over a century.

In a press statement, El-Enany also thanked the excavation workers for operating in difficult conditions while adhering to new coronavirus-related safety measures. “(It’s a) very exciting discovery,” he said in a video released by the ministry. “I think it’s only the beginning.”

Totally sealed

All 27 of the sarcophagi unearthed from Saqqara appear to be completely sealed, with initial studies suggesting that they haven’t been opened since they were first buried, the ministry said. Authorities also suggested that more coffins and artifacts were likely buried in the same location.

14 Fully Intact and Sealed Coffins Discovered after 2,500 Years in Egypt’s Saqqara
A sarcophagus from the Saqqara archaeological mission.

It is unclear how many more sarcophagi may be found in the shaft, or whose remains they contain, though archaeologists hope to provide further answers during the excavation process, said Mustafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The discovery follows a number of other significant finds at the Saqqara necropolis site in recent months. In April, archaeologists discovered five limestone sarcophagi and four wooden coffins containing human mummies.

That burial shaft, which stretched 9 meters (30 feet) below ground, was found to contain an array of small artifacts, including figurines that were typically buried in Egyptian graves to aid the deceased in the afterlife.

Also found in the tomb was a small wooden obelisk, about 40 centimeters tall, that had been painted with depictions of the Egyptian goddesses Isis and Nephthys, and the god Horus, one of the most renowned ancient Egyptian deities.

In December 2018, archaeologists found a private tomb belonging to a royal purification priest that dates back more than 4,000 years, according to the Ministry of Antiquities. A month before that, archaeologists found a mass cat cemetery and a collection of rare mummified scarab beetles.

Cleopatra’s final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered

Cleopatra’s final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered.

The mystery behind Egyptian queen Cleopatra’s tomb is immense because nobody appears to know where she was buried. However, archaeologists in Egypt are in all probability, close to cracking the code with respect to Cleopatra’s burial after two mummies of high-status individuals, who lived in her era, have been discovered at Taposiris Magna – a temple on the Nile delta.

A discovery that it is being described as “sensational” because it shows the importance of a necropolis that is being linked to her by the latest finds.

Although the burial chamber had been undisturbed for 2,000 years, the mummies are in a poor state of preservation because water had seeped through.

Cleopatra's final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered.
The two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna, that would originally have been completely covered with gold leaf.

But crucial evidence reveals they were originally completely covered with gold leaf, a luxury afforded only to those from the top tiers of society. Perhaps these two individuals had interacted with Cleopatra herself, archaeologists suggest.

The opening of the first-ever intact tomb found at Taposiris Magna was witnessed by cameras for a new Channel 5 documentary, The Hunt for Cleopatra’s Tomb, to be screened.

The temple is located near Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt and where Cleopatra killed herself in 30 BC

It is presented by Dr Glenn Godenho, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at Liverpool University, who described the discovery as phenomenal.

“Although now covered in dust from 2,000 years underground, at the time these mummies would have been spectacular. To be covered in gold leaf shows they … would have been … important members of society,” he said.

The mummies have been X-rayed, establishing that they are male and female. One suggestion is they were priests who played a key role in maintaining the pharaohs’ power. One bears an image of a scarab, symbolising rebirth, painted in gold leaf.

Cleopatra was the last of a ruthless dynasty that ruled the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt for almost three centuries. Yet not a single Ptolemaic pharaoh’s tomb has been found.

Excavations at Taposiris Magna are headed by Dr Kathleen Martínez, who, after working there for over 14 years, is more convinced than ever Cleopatra’s tomb will be found there. Only a tiny percentage of the vast site has been explored.

Dr Glenn Godenho and Dr Kathleen Martinez inside Taposiris Magna temple near Alexandria in Egypt

In the show, cameras film her as the burial chamber with two mummies is opened up for the first time. After an initial limestone slab is removed with a chisel and hammer, she peers through a small hole, exclaiming: “Oh my god, there are two mummies … See this wonder.”

Osteoarchaeologist, Dr Linda Chapon, working to conserve the two mummies found inside a sealed tomb at Taposiris Magna

Her previous discoveries include a headless statue of a pharaoh, believed to be King Ptolemy IV, Cleopatra’s ancestor, and a foundation plate with an inscription showing that the temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis. Cleopatra saw herself as the “human incarnation of Isis”, Martínez said.

At the site of the temple altar, where priests would have made offerings to the gods, 200 coins bearing Cleopatra’s name and her face have been discovered.

This “incredible find” not only links Cleopatra directly to Taposiris Magna but also reveals a striking image of the queen, Godenho says in the documentary.

While its prominent nose and double chin may not suggest the classical beauty immortalised by Hollywood and Elizabeth Taylor, it is how she would have wanted to be seen as the coins would have been pressed using her direct instructions.

Egypt dig unearths ‘early image of Jesus’ in a mysterious underground tomb

Egypt dig unearths ‘early image of Jesus’ in a mysterious underground tomb

Jesus image has been replicated countless times in churches and artwork, but a team of Spanish archaeologists believe they have found one of the earliest images of Jesus.

A mysterious underground room dating from between the sixth and seventh century AD holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing among other Coptic images.

The Catalan experts who discovered the site in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus think it was the final resting place for a writer and a number of priests.

A miraculous discovery! An underground room dating from the sixth century holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing (pictured) and one expert thinks it could be one of the earliest paintings of Jesus Christ. The image, which is seen here, has been protected from the sun with a thin layer of material

A miraculous discovery! An underground room dating from the sixth century holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing (pictured) and one expert thinks it could be one of the earliest paintings of Jesus Christ. The image, which is seen here, has been protected from the sun with a thin layer of material

THE UNDERGROUND ROOM

The structure dates from between the sixth and seventh century AD in the Coptic period and holds what could be an image of Jesus. It shows a young man with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing

The room is thought to be a tomb for a writer and several priests, based upon artefacts found inside it, including a metallic ink well. It lies in what was the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus on a processional route between the Nile and a temple dedicated to Osiris – the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

There is another mysterious structure closeby, linked with a flight of well-worn steps, which experts think might be another temple.

The find has been heralded as ‘exceptional’ by Josep Padró who is leading the exhibition and said the figure accompanies symbols and images of plants that are thought to date from the Coptic period of the first Christians.

Dr Padró, Emeritus Professor at the University of Barcelona, told La Vanguardia newspaper that the figure is that of ‘a young man with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing.’

‘We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ.’

Archaeologists are now working to translate inscriptions surrounding the figure in the painting on the wall of the rectangular crypt in a bid to ascertain the man’s identity. The underground structure measures around eight metres long and four metres deep.

Experts from the University of Barcelona, the Catalan Egyptology Society and the University of Montpellier are also unsure of what the function of structure originally was, but said that the underground stone structure is ‘excellent’ quality.

Ancient centre: The Catalan experts who discovered the site in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus (marked on the map) think it was the final resting place for a writer and a number of priests
Tools of the trade: The team of archaeologists also found working tools of a scribe that were buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the pens (pictured) for the deceased to write during the eternal life

They also found working tools of a scribe that was buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the deceased to write during the eternal life.

Dr Padró said: ‘The archaeological site of Oxyrhynchus is known for the thousands of papyri found there, but any scribe was found to date.’

While there were no inscriptions hinting at the identity of the deceased, the remains show that the scribe was probably around 17 year’s old and lived during the Coptic Roman period.

Archaeologists and engineers had to move around 45tonnes of rock to get to the hidden artwork and another unidentified structure close by, which is connected to the tombs by a set of very worn steps is currently being investigated.

Gateway to the afterlife? The underground structure is situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion - the temple dedicated to Osiris - which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus. The god is pictured in this painting in theTomb of Pashedu in Luxor, Egypt alongside - Orus, the hawk god protector of Osiris
Gateway to the afterlife? The underground structure is situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion – the temple dedicated to Osiris – which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus. The god is pictured in this painting in the tomb of Pashedu in Luxor, Egypt alongside – Orus, the hawk god protector of Osiris

No-one is sure of what lies inside it, but experts from the University of Barcelona think it might be a temple, perhaps dedicated to god Serapis – the Hellenistic form of Osiris who is the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife.

The structures are situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion, the temple dedicated to Osiris, which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has become personally involved with the excavation, The Local reported. The Egyptian ministry will develop the archaeological site to preserve early Christian artwork.

Passport of 3,000-year-old Mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses II Issued for Travelling to France for the necessary repair

Passport of 3,000-year-old Mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses II Issued for Travelling to France for the necessary repair

Pharoah Ramesses was one of the strongest leaders in ancient Egypt and even when he had died, he was an absolute king. Ramesses, sometimes also known as Ramses, was the greatest and the most famous ruler of the New Kingdom, and ruling the dynasty of Egypt over 66 years.

Born in 1303 BC, Ramesses was named after Ra, the ruler of the sun and ‘Ramesses’ translates to ‘Ra is the one who bore him.’ He fought multiple battles and led several military expeditions. He got hold of the throne when he was only in his teens.

His father, Ramesses I, came from a non-Royal family and was given the crown after the demise of Akhenaten, a pharaoh who tried to convert Egyptians to a newly-introduced monotheistic religion. He made his son a military general when he was merely 10 years old. Egyptians referred to Ramesses II as ‘Ramesses the great.’ He was deeply loved by his masses.

Archaeologists have found numerous Paintings, murals, engravings, and tombs in honor of Ramesses II, praising him. While the exact age is not known, it is believed that Ramesses died when he was about 90 years old.

He had several dental problems and was suffering from arthritis. He outlived many of his wives and even children and took his empire to a new height.

Ramesses II as a child at Cairo Museum

He was buried in the Valley of Kings, originally, but due to the constant threat of being looted, the priests took him out, re-wrapped him, and then placed him in the tomb of queen Ahmose Inhapy only to remove him again and move to Pinedjem’s tomb, a high priest. The linen which covers his body has hieroglyphics depicting the same.

His mummy was first discovered in 1881 and the people who discovered it were shocked to see what they found. Even after hundreds of years, Ramesses’ body was still intact, hair still on his head and his skin was in pristine condition.

The mummy was 5’7 in height, had a strong jaw and an aquiline nose structure. Gaston Maspero, who first unwrapped the mummy, revealed fascinating details about it.

In Egypt, a statue of Ramses II

“On the temples, there are a few sparse hairs, but at the poll the hair is quite thick, forming smooth, straight locks about five centimeters in length. White at the time of death, and possibly auburn during life, they have been dyed a light red by the spices (henna) used in embalming… the mustache and beard are thin…

The hairs are white, like those of the head and eyebrows…the skin is of earthy brown, splotched with black… the face of the mummy gives a fair idea of the face of the living king,” he noted.

But, when a group of Egyptologists visited his tomb in 1974, they found that the body of the legendary king was deteriorating rapidly and was in a grave need of repairs.

It was found that bacteria due to humidity had infested the body of the pharaoh, causing it to fall apart. To repair and preserve such an ancient body, experts were needed and at that time, such experts were only found in France.

So, in order to take the mummy to Paris, the authorities issued Ramesses II a valid Egyptian passport, 3,000 years after his death. A picture of his mummy was his passport picture (and you thought you look ugly in your passport id) and his profession was listed as ‘King (Deceased).’

The mummy flew to Paris after formalities and was received with military honors, like a king. After he was repaired, he flew back to Cairo and now resides there in the Egyptian Museum.

The legendary king was issued a valid Egyptian passport so he could fly to Paris for necessary repairs.

Egypt: Hidden City found beneath Alexandria – Archaeology World

Egypt: Hidden City found beneath Alexandria – Archaeology World

Alexander the Great founded the legendary city of Alexandria as he swept through Egypt to conquer the world. Now scientists have discovered hidden underwater traces of a city that existed at Alexandria at least seven centuries before Alexander the Great arrived, findings hinted at in Homer’s Odyssey and that could shed light on the ancient world.

In Egypt on the Mediterranean shore, Alexandria was founded in 332 B.C, to immortalize Alexander the Great. The city was renowned for its library, once the largest in the world, as well as its lighthouse at the island of Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Alexandria was known to have developed from a settlement known as Rhakotis, or Râ-Kedet, vaguely alluded to as a modest fishing village of little significance by some historians.

Detail from the Alexander mosaic. From the House of the Faun, Pompeii, c. 80 B.C.

Seven rod-shaped samples of dirt gathered from the seafloor of Alexandria’s harbor now suggest there may have been a flourishing urban center there as far back at 1000 B.C.

Coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and his colleagues used vibrating hollow tubes to gently extract three-inch-wide rods of sediment 6 to 18 feet long (2 to 5.5 meters) from up to 20 feet (6.5 meters) underwater.

Collecting these samples underwater proved challenging. “Alexandria now is home to as many as 4 million people, and we were in the unfortunate position of having to deal with their discharge—human waste, municipal waste, industrial waste—which got released into the harbor,” Stanley said. “It’s not funny, but you have to sort of laugh.”

Ceramic shards, high levels of lead that were likely used in construction, building stones imported from elsewhere in Egypt, and organic material likely coming from sewage were detected in the sediment.

These all suggest the presence of a significant settlement well before Alexander the Great came. The results are detailed in the August issue of the journal GSA Today.

“Alexandria was built on top of an existing, and perhaps quite important, settlement, maybe one that was minimized in importance because we can’t see it now,” Stanley told LiveScience. “Nothing really concrete about Rhakotis has been discovered until now.”

Alexander the Great likely chose this area for Alexandria since it had a bay to protect a harbor against fierce winter storms in the Mediterranean.

“There are very few places in the Egyptian Mediterranean coast where the coastline is not smooth,” Stanley said. “This would have been the best place to establish a harbor.”

Stanley added this bay was even noted in Homer’s epic Odyssey: “Now in the surging sea an island lies, Pharos they call it. By it, there lies a bay with a good anchorage, from which they send the trim ships off to sea.”

This area might have been a haven throughout ancient times for the Greeks, Minoans, Phoenicians, and others. Future research could shed light on the life of mariners at this settlement before Alexander came. “Virtually nothing is known of the people who would have lived there,” Stanley said.