Category Archives: WORLD

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.

Why There Are Six Million Skeletons Stuffed Into The Tunnels Beneath Paris

Why There Are Six Million Skeletons Stuffed Into The Tunnels Beneath Paris

One of his mysterious entrances into the French capital Paris should you be closely looking for. But if you trip over it, it shows a dark and dank and narrow tunnel underground world with a fascinating history.

The bones of 6 million people known as the French Empire of the Dead a reality brought to life in the recent CNN movie-lie underneath the City of Light where 12 million people are living there.

The Paris catacombs are a 200-mile network of old caves, tunnels, and quarries – and much of it is filled with the skulls and bones of the dead.

Much of the catacombs are out of bounds to the public, making it illegal to explore unsupervised. But nevertheless, it is a powerful draw for a hardcore group of explorers with a thirst for adventure.

A tourist-friendly, the legal entrance can be found off Place Denfert-Rochereau in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, near the Montparnasse district.

Here, visitors from all over the world can descend into the city’s dark and dank bowels for a whistle-stop tour of a small section of the catacombs.

One visitor told CNN: ‘I think people are fascinated with death. They don’t know what it’s about and you see all these bones stacked up, and the people that have come before us, and it’s fascinating. We’re trying to find our past and it’s crazy and gruesome and fun all at the same time.’

Why There Are Six Million Skeletons Stuffed Into The Tunnels Beneath Paris
The macabre mosaics lining the walls of the underground network are the remains of 6million former Parisians

The well-worn trail might be enough to satisfy the tourists, but other Parisians like to go further – and deeper – to explore the network. The name given to the group of explorers who go into the cave network illegally and unsupervised is Cataphiles.

The top-secret groups go deep underground, using hidden entrances all over the city. And they sometimes stay for days at a time, equipped with headlamps and home-made maps.

Street names are etched into the walls to help explorers navigate their way around the underground version of the city and some groups have even been known to throw parties in the tunnels or drink wine.

For catacomb devotees, the silence experienced deep in tunnels cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Urban explorer Loic Antoine-Gambeaud told CNN: ‘I think it’s in the collective imagination. Everybody knows that there is something below Paris; that something goes on that’s mysterious. But I don’t think many people have even an idea of what the underground is like.’

Empire of the dead: While much of the 200-mile network is out of bounds, a small section is open to tourists

Those caught exploring unauthorized sections of the network could end up out of pocket. Police tasked with patrolling the tunnels have the power to hand out fines of 60 euros to anyone caught illegally roaming the network.

A by-product of the early development of Paris, the catacombs were subterranean quarries which were established as limestone was extracted deep underground to build the city above.

However, a number of streets collapsed as the quarries weakened parts of the city’s foundations. Repairs and reinforcements were made and the network went through several transformations throughout history.

However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the catacombs became known as the Empire of the Dead when they became the solution to overcrowding in the city’s cemeteries.

The number of dead bodies buried in Paris’s cemeteries and beneath its churches was so great that they began breaking through the walls of people’s cellars and causing serious health concerns.

So the human remains were transferred to the underground quarries in the early 1780s. There are now more than 6million people underground.

Space was the perfect solution to ease overcrowding in cemeteries but it presented disadvantages elsewhere. It is the reason there are few tall buildings in Paris; large foundations cannot be built because the catacombs are directly under the city’s streets.

The tunnels also played their part in the Second World War. Parisian members of the French Resistance used the winding tunnels and German soldiers also set up an underground bunker in the catacombs, just below the 6th arrondissement.

17th-Century Tunnel Decorated with Pre-Hispanic Carvings Discovered in Mexico

17th-Century Tunnel Decorated with Pre-Hispanic Carvings Discovered in Mexico

Historians in Mexico have found an intriguing, 11 drawings decorated tunnel from the 17th century.

The pictures were created before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, but were incorporated into the walls of the tunnel when it was built centuries later.

This suggests that the Aztecs, known for their magnificent temples, the method of a hieroglyphic writing system, and gruesome penchant for sacrificing children.

In the 15th century, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma I ordered the construction, in an attempt to control severe flooding from surrounding rivers, of a reservoir project in what is now Mexico City.

However, when infamous conquistador Hernán Cortés and his posse arrived, the system was destroyed, before being rebuilt in the 17th century. The dike system is now known as the Albarradon de Ecatepec.  

The stone used in the initial construction was likely repurposed when the dikes were rebuilt, explaining the Aztec symbols etched into the sides of the tunnel.

It is believed they were drawn by locals from the nearby towns of Chiconautla and Ecatepec prior to the Spanish invasion.

The images include both petroglyphs (rock carvings) and stucco relief panels and depict various things, including a war shield or chimalli, the head of a bird of prey, and a flint point.

Some icons are still being carefully examined to assess what they might portray, notes INAH, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The head of a bird of prey drawn on the rock.

The main arch of the tunnel also includes an etching of a temple dedicated to Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, earthly fertility, and water. He was viewed by the Aztecs as a provider of life and sustenance.

Hidden within the 8-meter (27-foot) tunnel also lay various artifacts made from glass, porcelain, and a type of pottery called majolica, along with a statue of a seated person that appears to be missing its head and the lone feet of a larger statue.  

The discovery is part of a long-term government project to excavate the Albarradón de Ecatepec, which has been running since 2004.

The newly discovered tunnel is located 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the start of the Albarradón in an area called Patio de Diligencias.

The INAH now plans to replace the glyphs with replicas and house the originals in the Casa de Morelos Community Center.

The depiction of a temple dedicated to the Aztec god of rain.

Américas – Skeleton mystery solved: One-legged remains of Napoleon’s favorite general identified

Américas – Skeleton mystery solved: One-legged remains of Napoleon’s favorite general identified

DNA tests on a one-legged skeleton found under a dance floor in Russia have officially confirmed the identification of one of Napoleon’s favorite generals

In Smolensk, Russia, a team of French and Russic archeologists discovered the remains of General Charles-Étienne Gudin, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most admired military commanders.

The one-legged military man was killed by a cannonball when he was 44 on Aug. 22, 1812, according to LiveScience — and his remains were left buried until now.

Found on July 6 beneath the foundations of a dancefloor, the skeleton was indeed missing a left leg and also showed evidence of injury on the right leg — two essential details that suggest that these remains, in fact, belong to Gudin.

The body of Charles-Étienne Gudin was found on July 6 under the foundation of a dance floor in Smolensk, Russia. Gudin had been buried for more than 200 years.

Records from 1812 note that the man had his leg amputated below the knee after sustaining grievous harm during the Russian invasion. Upon his death, Napoleon ordered Gudin’s name to be inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe while his bust was put in the Palace of Versailles, and a Parisian street was named after him.

Meanwhile, his heart was removed and placed in a chapel in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery as a token of honor.

A depiction of Charles-Étienne Gudin.

“It’s a historic moment not only for me but for our two countries,” said French historian and archaeologists Pierre Malinovsky, who helped find Gudin’s remains.

“Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive, which is very important, and he’s the first general from the Napoleonic period that we have found.”

Bonaparte and Gudin were childhood friends and attended the Military School in Brienne together. Gudin’s death had a profound impact on his old friend. Napoleon reportedly cried when he heard the news and immediately ordered that the man receive high honors.

In July, the research team eagerly planned on testing the skeleton for DNA to officially lay all doubt about its identification to rest, Reuters reported.

“It’s possible that we’ll have to identify the remains with the aid of a DNA test which could take from several months to a year,” the Russian military-historical society explained. “The general’s descendants are following the news.”

A close-up of the one-legged skeleton now confirmed to belong to General Charles-Étienne Gudin.

According to CNN, Malinovsky has since eradicated any uncertainty. In November 2019, he revealed that he transported part of the skeleton’s femur and several teeth from Moscow to Marseille shortly after the excavation to conduct a detailed analysis.

The overnight trip concluded with a genetic comparison between the remains and that of the deceased general’s mother, brother, and son.

The resourceful scientist had simply packed the bone and teeth in his luggage to do so. The results were satisfactory, to say the least.

“A professor in Marseille carried out extensive testing and the DNA matches 100 percent,” he said. “It was worth the trouble.”

Malinovski said Gudin will likely be buried at Les Invalides. The historic compound of military monuments and museums will see the one-legged general in good company — as it also holds the body of Napoleon, himself.