Category Archives: AFRICA

Egypt says it’s unearthed large animal mummy, likely a lion

Egypt says it’s unearthed large animal mummy, likely a lion

Egypt, Cairo: The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt reports that locals have uncovered the remains of an exceptionally large animal possibly the lion or lioness.

On Monday, the Minister informed, the mummy that it had been excavated in Saqqara, a town south of Cairo that was a vast necropolis in antiquity and is home to the famed Step Pyramid.

Mummified cats are often found by archeology, but a lion recovery is rare.

A first lion skeleton was found in 2004 which revealed the animal’s sacred status in ancient times.

The ministry says it will expand on the discovery at a press conference after running radar scans.

Egypt has stepped up promotion of its archeological treasures in hopes of reviving a tourism sector slow to recover from the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Mystery over contents of 9 foot tall ancient Egyptian sarcophagus discovered in Alexandria

Mystery over contents of 9  foot tall ancient Egyptian sarcophagus discovered in Alexandria

Mystery over contents of 9-foot-tall ancient Egyptian sarcophagus discovered in Alexandria

The spooky relic was found inside an ancient tomb and has left archaeologists baffled – because it measures NINE foot long.

Experts say the sarcophagus is built from black granite and is the largest ever found in the ancient city of Alexandria.

The tomb dates back to the Ptolemaic period, which covers the time between 305BC and 30BC. The sarcophagus itself looks particularly foreboding, measuring nine feet long, five feet wide, and six feet tall.

Scientists who helped excavate the site still aren’t sure why it’s so big, because Ancient Egyptians were typically much smaller than modern men – and nowhere near nine feet.

The average height of an Ancient Egyptian man was just over five feet, while women were typically just shy of five feet. Archaeologists say the sarcophagus is covered in a thick layer of mortar.

That’s important because it suggests the creepy coffin has never been opened since the time it was buried.

This means the person (or people) originally buried inside it may still be in there – along with any accompanying possessions. But that’s not all that’s got scientists interested.

The sarcophagus was uncovered five metres beneath the surface of the land
The sarcophagus was uncovered five meters beneath the surface of the land

The tomb also contained an alabaster head of an unknown man, who may be the person inside the sarcophagus. Scientists will now have to make the important decision of whether to open the sarcophagus or not to find out.

It’s possible they may get around the issue by using X-Rays or CT scans to examine the innards without breaching the case physically. But the only true way to reveal all of the secrets in this sarcophagus is to bust it open.

King Tutankhamun is an immediately recognizable symbol of Ancient Egypt – and popularised belief in a “curse of the pharaohs”

Opening ancient tombs can be risky business, or so history tells us. It’s a popular belief that a “curse of the pharaohs” is cast on anyone who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian person.

This alleged curse is said to affect anyone: not only thieves but scientists and archaeologists too.

A fresco on the wall of his tomb shows Tutankhamun with the god Osiris
A fresco on the wall of his tomb shows Tutankhamun with the god Osiris
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s beautifully-preserved tomb made headlines around the world

It was popularised by the 1922 opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun, which seemingly led to a string of deaths of people associated with the discovery.

The most notable passing was of Lord Carnarvon, the British financial backer of the excavation team who was present at the tomb’s opening. He died four months after the tomb was opened due to an infected mosquito bite.

Another Brit called Howard Carter, who helped open the tomb, also died – albeit more than a decade later. Still, some attribute his death to the pharaoh’s curse.

Historians say there were 11 related deaths within the first 10 years of Tutankhamun’s tomb opening.

Of course, what’s most likely is that the prevalence of the disease in early 20th Century Egypt – and generally worse medical care compared to modern standards – explains why we saw a seemingly high number of deaths.

But the mythical curse may be enough to put some archaeologists off opening this new sarcophagus.

Archaeologists Discover Remains Of Three Different Cats Inside Ancient Egyptian Mummy

Archaeologists Discover Remains Of Three Different Cats Inside Ancient Egyptian Mummy

An elderly cat mom’s scan showed that the 2500-year-old feline, ostensibly inside the covers, wasn’t a single animal. Instead, according to recent results, the mummy contained partial remains of three cats.

Cat mummies in ancient Egypt are not common, although thousands of cat mummies have been identified in burials by the archeologists. In ancient Egypt pets with their families are usually buried.

According to an earlier BBC Report, the desire to preserve animals as a gift to the Gods led to the establishment of an entire industry and the mummification of over 70 million animals.

The 2,500-year-old Egyptian cat mummy, who belongs to a collection at the Fine Arts Museum in Rennes, France was recently examined by a group of researchers.

The scientists performed a computerized tomography (CT) scan, a type of X-ray, to illuminate what was inside the mummy without unwrapping it, and then they created 3D digital and transparent 3D-printed reconstructions of the mummy.

The scans revealed that this ancient mummy was filled with some surprises. Instead of the cat’s head, the mummy held a ball of fabric.

It was also missing a skull, vertebrae, and ribs, and instead held five hind leg bones from three different cats, according to a statement from the National Institute of Preventive Archeological Research (Inrap) in France.

The bones were decomposed and riddled with holes created by corpse-eating insects, said Théophane Nicolas, a researcher at Inrap who was part of the project.

Researchers used a CT scan to examine the insides of the cat mummy without damaging it.

“Cat mummies have been found in very large quantities sometimes in extremely degraded states and reduced to the state of accumulation of bones,” Nicolas told BBC.

But sometimes what you see on the outside is not what you get on the inside, he said. While some animal mummies are complete, others are empty or have only fragments of animal bones.

What’s more, because the larger mummies preserved as offerings for the gods sold for more money, many of the mummies were made to appear bigger than the animals themselves, and some didn’t contain animal remains at all. Instead, they were filled with organic material such as leather and gravel, according to the previous BBC report. 

It’s unclear why the Rennes cat mummy held the partial remains of three different cats, but some researchers believe that it was part of an “ancient scam organized by unscrupulous priests,” Nicolas said in the statement.

Priests could have “resorted to less elaborate preparations, impossible to detect by sight” for rituals which “gradually lead to mummies whose cat shape represents a visible reality beyond the real content,” he told BBC. 

But Nicolas and his team don’t think that’s necessarily true. “We believe on the contrary that there are innumerable ways to make animal mummies,” he said in the statement.

The group of scientists projected the internal 3D reconstruction onto the 3D-printed model of the mummy.

This glowing object was presented last month in Sweden at the European Heritage Days 2019 event and will be on display for people to view at the Museum of Fine Arts in France.

CT scans allow researchers to examine different layers of mummified animals, like this cat mummy.

Evidence of hidden pyramid discovered in Saqqara near Egypt’s oldest pyramid

Evidence of hidden pyramid discovered in Saqqara near Egypt’s oldest pyramid

A 30-year-old archeologist with work experience in Egypt made an impressive report.

It says it has found evidence of a secret pyramid deep below the desert of Saqqara. If it has proven to be correct, that could be said that Egypt has still many other pyramids.

According to the Daily Express, ‘ The last thirty years Dr. Vasko Dobrev has been exploring the area just 19 miles from Giza’s world-famous Pyramid.

During this time he made many amazing discoveries. The specialist has recently appeared on Channel 5, a British television channel. The series starred Tony Robinson, the popular TV character and is called “Opening the Great Tomb of Egypt.”

Development of the Pyramid

Two royal burial sites, located near the old Egyptian capital city of Memphis, were visited by Robinson and Dobrev. This area was crucial in the development of the step-pyramids during the Old Kingdom period.

The first of this type of construction was built here for Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty by the architect Imhotep, but these monuments were not perfected until the reign of Snefru (reigned 2613 to 2589 BC). This Pharaoh, who established the 4th dynasty, constructed three pyramids, of which the best known is the Red Pyramid.

Hunting for a Buried Pyramid

Dobrev claims to have found the remains of a pyramid. He believes that a ‘new Pyramid may lie buried beneath the sand in the area of Saqqara South,’ reports Curiosmos.com.

It is located north-west of the burial place of Pharaoh Pepi I , in Tabbet al-Guesh. Dobrev told Robinson that Saqqara still has more wonders to reveal.

Kneeling statue of Pharaoh Pepi I.

The Egyptologist told the amazed British documentary-maker, that “ Saqqara boasts the first pyramid and a great many more,” according to the Daily Express.

Dobrov believes that all the members of a dynasty were buried here because of its close proximity to Memphis. Not all of the royal burials have been accounted for and he believes this means more pyramids are yet to be found.

The Egyptologist took Robinson to a flat plateau where he believes there are traces of a pyramid. It has remained undiscovered for millennia, he believes. Dobrov is confident that the base of a pyramid built for Pharaoh Userkare (23rd century BC) lies under the sand.

Buried in the Desert Sands

The Egyptologist argues that this pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty did not live long enough for his pyramid to be built. Curiosmos.com quotes Dobrov saying that the monarch, “may have only had time to create the pyramid base .” 

The expert believes that the location was likely the site of the Userkare pyramid because it is near his father’s and other family members’ burial places.

The Egyptologist revealed that there is an unidentified structure underneath the sand in the area that is likely to be man-made because it has right angles.

This was revealed by a scan of the location, conducted using the latest geophysical technology. The structure is estimated to measure 240 ft by 240 ft (80m by 80m), based on the scan. Curiosmos.com reports this is ‘precisely the dimension of a pyramid spanning back to the period when Userkare reigned’.

Scan of the desert where a possible pyramid exists buried beneath the sand. Image Credit: Channel 5 (UK).

Traces of Userkare’s Pyramid?

It appears that the expert found a square structure that could very well be the base of a pyramid. Dobrov provided the British documentary maker with an image of a scan. This showed something unusual beneath the desert sands, however, it is debatable if it is conclusive proof.

There are no indications yet of any future plans to excavate the area where a lost pyramid may be buried. It seems likely that Dobrov will continue to work in the area as he has done for some three decades. If he is proven correct, there could be many more than the 120 currently known pyramids in Egypt.

Ornately-tattooed 3,000-year-old mummy discovered by archaeologists

Ornately-tattooed 3,000-year-old mummy discovered by archaeologists

In 2016, an ancient Egyptian mummy with symbolic tattoos was discovered by a team of archeologists, they thought were first of their kind.

The 3000-year-old mummified woman was tattooed with various symbols, including cows, lotus and divine eyes, which could represent her religious status or practices.

It was the first time that researchers had an Egyptian mummy with tattoos showing recognizable objects rather than abstract patterns and designs that made this discovery significant!

The mummy, as the team pointed out, was uncovered at a site near the western bank of River Nile.

Between 1550 BC and 1080 BC, the area was home to a village, known as Deir el-Medina, which was populated by the artisans and workers responsible for building the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings.

It was while examining the skeletal remains at the Deir el-Medina site that Stanford bioarchaeologist Anne Austin, who was working at the time for the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology, first stumbled upon the fascinating symbols on the mummy’s neck.

She initially thought the markings had been drawn on the woman’s neck.

As Austin explained, it was customary in ancient Egypt to put amulets around the deceased’s neck for burial.

At times, the amulets were simply painted or even tattooed on the torso, as was probably the case with this mummy.

According to the team, further analysis using infrared scanning revealed a bunch of other markings that were quite possibly intended as permanent skin adornments than just ritualistic designs.

Along with archaeologist Cédric Gobeil, Austin cataloged over dozens of these symbols, some of which had clear religious significance. Speaking about the find, Austin said at the time:

As we started to analyze the markings on the arms, we realized that these markings were shrunken and distorted. Therefore, they must have been made prior to mummification… Several are associated with the goddess Hathor, such as cows with special necklaces. Others — such as snakes placed on the upper arms — are also associated with female deities in ancient Egypt.

Wadjet eyes, which are basically divine eyes representing God’s protection, were tattooed all over the mummy’s neck, shoulders, and back.

Along the mummified female’s neck, these marks might have also pertained to what are known as nefer symbols, or “the sign of beauty and goodness”. Austin said:

At the nearby site of Deir el-Bahri, the combination of the Wadjet and nefer have been interpreted as a formula for the phrase ‘to do good.

As the researchers pointed out, the tattoos’ position along the mummy’s throat (as in voice box) seems to suggest that the woman invoked the power to do good, every time she spoke or sang.

The discovery, according to Austin, alluded to the symbolic nature and role of tattooing in ancient Egypt. She went on to say:

Interestingly, all of the tattoos found so far have been exclusively on women, though we are curious to see if that trend continues as more tattoos are identified.

And finally, in case you are wondering, in spite of these particular set of tattoos being around 3000-years old, they are not the oldest known tattoos ever discovered by archaeologists.

That honor actually belongs to the 5300-years old Ötzi the Iceman, who was found quite unintentionally by a group of hikers in 1991 in the Oetztal Alps (in modern-day north Italy).

Egypt unveils biggest ancient coffin find in over a century

Egypt unveils discovery of 30 ancient coffins with mummies inside

On Saturday, the Egyptian authorities revealed 30 ancient wooden sarcophagi found in Luxor, including mummies indeed.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities secretary general Mostafa Waziri told reporters that the discovery was the country’s largest in more than a century.

After years of foreign archeological digs, it is the first cache of coffins to be found in an Egyptian venture.

Egyptian archeologist opens a coffin belonging to a man in front of Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor on October 19, 2019.

“The last one was in 1891, [led by] foreigners. 1881, [also] foreigners. But … 2019 is an Egyptian discovery,” Waziri said. “This is an indescribable feeling, I swear to God.”

The discovery was unveiled in front of Hatshepsut Temple at Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany described the 3,000-year-old coffins, which were buried in Al-Asasif Cemetery, as “exceptionally well-preserved, exceptionally well-colored.”

They contained the mummified remains of men and women, as well as two children, who are believed to be from the middle class, Waziri said.

While the mummies were found completely wrapped in cloth, their genders could be identified by the shape of the hands-on the coffin.

Coffins that were carved with the hands open meant they were female, while if the hands were balled into fists, they held males, according to Waziri.

Tourists view the newly discovered coffins at Hatshepsut Temple on October 19, 2019.

According to archaeologist Zahi Hawass, finding coffins belonging to a child is a rare occurrence. The discovery of two has caused tremendous interest “worldwide,” he said.

The coffins were sealed, stacked on top of each other and arranged in two rows about three feet below the sand, he said.

They are adorned with intricate carvings and designs, including Egyptian deities, hieroglyphics, and scenes from the Book of the Dead, a series of spells that enabled the soul to navigate the afterlife. Names of the dead were also carved onto some of the coffins, Hawass said.

The inscriptions are especially unique because of the vivid colors, which stayed intact even though the coffins were buried for thousands of years. This is because ancient Egyptians used natural colors from stones, such as limestone, red oak, and turquoise, mixed with egg whites, according to Waziri.

After painting, egg yolk was mixed with candle wax and spread over the coffin to maintain a natural shine, which is still visible. he said.
Officials said the first coffin was discovered because its head was partially exposed. When they continued to dig, 17 more coffins were found. After those coffins were excavated, the archeologists discovered an additional 12.

The cache of coffins was most likely hidden to keep tomb robbers away from them, according to Waziri.

An open coffin displayed in Luxor reveals a mummy.
An open coffin displayed in Luxor reveals a mummy.

Hawass told reporters during a press event that the discovery reveals important details about ancient Egyptian burial rights, such as how they respected the dead regardless of gender or age.
“This will enrich our knowledge as Egyptologists about the belief of the afterlife,” Hawass said.

The mummies will be restored before being moved to a museum of ancient Egyptian artifacts near the Giza pyramids. The coffins will be given their own exhibit.

“They will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum, which will be opening at the end of 2020, as a new surprise for our visitors,” said El-Enany.

Temple of Ptolemy IV Discovered in Southern Egypt

Temple of Ptolemy IV Discovered in Southern Egypt

The remains of Ptolemy 4 Philopator’s temple were incidentally stumbled upon when an Egyptian archeological mission was digging in Kom Ishqaw City, Sohag Governorate.

Remains of Ptolemy IV temple discovered by Egypt’s antiquity ministry

It was a nome in Egypt under the Greek Empire rule, earlier known as the Per-Wadjet.

During an excavation in Kom Shaqao Sohag, a task from the Ministry of Antiquities, ruins of King Ptolemy IV’s temple were uncovered.

Parts of the ruins had been discovered by chance during the supplying of sewage lines in the city of Tama, Sohag early in September.

The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa al-Waziry said in a statement on the ministry’s official Facebook page that the sewage work was immediately stopped by a task team from the Ministry of Antiquities, assigned to conduct archaeological excavations in the area.

According to the head of the Central Department for Antiquities of Egypt, Mohamed Abdel Badie, the mission then started work in the area south of the wall discovered during the drainage project.

The expedition unearthed the southwestern corner of the temple and the rest of the wall heading from north to south.

These ruins featured inscriptions of the ancient Egyptian god Habi accompanied by many different animals, and the remains of texts containing Ptolemy IV’s name, according to Badei.

Another limestone wall heading westward was also found, covered with limestone slabs.

Kom Shaqao was the capital of the tenth region of Upper Egypt, west of the city of Tama, which was once called Wagit. The oldest mention of Wagit was in the Fourth Dynasty.

King Tut’s Coffin Has been Removed from his Tomb for the First Time in History

King Tut’s Coffin Has been Removed from his Tomb for the First Time in History

King Tutankhamun’s outer coffin is being restored for the Grand Egyptian Museum’s opening in late 2020. The pharaoh’s tomb was restored earlier this year.

From the time that King Tutankhamun’s body was placed, the outermost sarcophagus had never left the 3300-year-old tomb.

Even in 1922, following the discovery of the tomb by the British archeologist Howard Carter, the outer coffin made from wood and gold stayed in the Valley of Kings — until now.

An almost 10-year redevelopment of Tut’s tomb was completed in earlier this year by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Now, The Los Angeles Times wrote, they are going to restore his golden coffin, removing it from its resting place and allowing experts to finally get a good look.

The intricate project is largely motivated by the impending opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in late 2020, which will overlook the Pyramids of Giza. In addition to the three coffins (one inside the other) that house Tut’s body, the exhibit will showcase the numerous relics discovered in his tomb.

The innermost coffin is made of solid gold, while the middle coffin is built from gilded wood and multi-colored glass.

Carter’s discovery of Tut’s resting place in the Valley of the Kings was the first time that a royal tomb from the time of ancient Egypt had been discovered so remarkably intact. It contained a plethora of stunning royal treasures as well, such as a dagger made from a meteorite.

After the discovery, two of the three coffins were subsequently transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo while the outer coffin was left in the king’s tomb. Only in July, 97 years later, was the casket removed under intense security in order for it to be fumigated for an entire week.

With careful yet thorough restoration now underway, experts have had the rare opportunity to inspect the outer coffin up close and reveal photos for all to see.

Restoration of the outer coffin will take at least eight months, Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said.

Given the damage to the coffin that experts have now seen, however, Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said it would take a minimum of eight months to restore it. The general director of First Aid Conservation and Transportation of Artifacts Eissa Zeidan said the coffin is about “30 percent damaged” due to the heat and humidity inside the tomb.

“The coffin is in a very bad condition, very deteriorated,” said Zeidan. “We found many cracks, we found many missing parts, missing layers.”

El-Enany confirmed as much when he said the coffin was in a “very fragile state,” with repair work on its cracks being the foremost priority. The 7-foot, the 3-inch-long coffin has been safely kept in one of the 17 laboratories within the new museum.

Restorers have been working on numerous items found in King Tut’s tomb, of which there are more than 5,000 — all of which will be showcased at the Grand Egyptian Museum. With more than 75,000 square feet of real estate, it’ll be the biggest museum on Earth exclusively dedicated to one civilization.

A woman looks at the golden sarcophagus belonging to Tut, who died at the age of 19.

Restoration of King Tut’s tomb came after years of tourists trudging through the majestic World Heritage site. Both the Getty Conservation Institute and Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities committed to the extensive revamp nearly a decade ago and finally finished in February.

Their efforts included installing an air filtration system to regulate the humidity, carbon dioxide, and dust levels inside. Lighting, as well as a new platform from which tourists can see the sarcophagus, were added too.

The linen-wrapped mummy of King Tutankhamun displayed in his climate-controlled glass case in the underground tomb KV62.

Of greatest concern were the strange brown spots on the tomb’s paintings, which suggested microbial growth in the room. These were found to have been mere discolorations due to fungus that had been there since the tomb’s discovery.

Thankfully, neither fungus nor anything else has taken down Tut’s tomb. Now, after a long period of restoration, it will live on for many more visitors to see. And after the most recent restoration of the outermost coffin, visitors will have the most complete picture yet of how the boy king was buried.

When work on the pharaoh’s gilded coffin concludes and the Grand Egyptian officially opens, it will be the first time in history that King Tut’s three coffins will be on display together.