Category Archives: AFRICA

Roman Senate Building Unearthed in Egypt

Remains of Graeco-Roman Senate Building Unearthed in Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Discovery Finally Explains How The Egyptians Built Their Great Pyramids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pyramid’s Stone Blocks Are Massively Heavy

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

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

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

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

Some Historians Believe The Pyramid Required 100,000 Workers

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

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

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

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

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

The Pyramids’ Alignment Points To An Alien Conspiracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pyramid Were Actually Constructed From Concrete

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

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

Barsoum noted: 

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

Perhaps The Pyramids Were Built Inside Out

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

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

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

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

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

DNA confirms Aboriginal culture one of Earth’s oldest

The first Aboriginal genome sequence confirms Australia’s native people left Africa 75,000 years ago.

ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS ARE Descendents of the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago, a genetic study has found, confirming they may have the oldest continuous culture on the planet.

Perhaps the most prominent claim to whether the last three decades largely unchanged is that around 70,000 years ago modern humans began to migrate out from their homelands in sub-Saharan Africa to colonize the world beyond.

The “Recent Out of Africa Theory” remains at the core of most consensus models tackling human origins and migrations, but in the background, a series of discoveries are threatening to consign this theory to the garbage bin of history.

Most of the contrary evidence is emerging from studies focused on the largely sidelined (from a palaeoanthropology perspective) continent of Australasia.

Until around eight months ago, the scientific community was in broad agreement that the first humans to reach Australasia had walked from Africa, probably close to 60,000 years ago, and finally sailed through Indonesia to the continent’s shores 50,000 years ago. This scenario certainly seemed to fit well with the overall expectations of the recent out of Africa model and seemed to embrace most of the available evidence.

Then came the announcement of a 65,000-year-old Aboriginal site at the Madjedbebe rock shelter in the far north. Some of the associated stone artifacts mentioned in the paper that was published in Nature on July 2017, “Human Occupation of Northern Australia by 65,000 years ago,” produced dates closer to 80,000 years.

“People got here much earlier than we thought, which means, of course, they must also have left Africa much earlier to have traveled on their long journey through Asia and south-east Asia to Australia,” said the lead author, Associate Professor Chris Clarkson, from the University of Queensland.

There is no conceivable way in which the presence of humans in Australia 65,000 years ago can be explained by a migration moving slowly from Africa through Eurasia 60,000 years ago; even at the 70,000-year upper limit for dating this expansion, it simply does not make sense. Multiple genome studies have indicated that the ancestors of modern Eurasians diverged from their source population between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Before going any further, it is essential to understand why the populating of Eurasia is understood to be the outcome of expansion from Africa; it’s all to do with modern Africans’ genes.

The ancestors of all living Europeans and Asians carried the mitochondrial haplogroups (genetic markers) M and N; they also carried Y-chromosomal haplogroup CF. A sampling of modern African DNA revealed that the Eurasian haplogroups stemmed back to mutations which had appeared in the African genome around 70,000 years ago, respectively, these earlier haplogroups were mitochondrial DNA HgL3 and Y-chromosomal HgCT.

You are probably wondering what, then, is the problem with the above modeling; surely this DNA data offers definitive evidence of a shared African origin for all modern humans.

The reason for extreme doubt is that the oldest sample of African DNA yet recovered is 8,100 years old. The lack of sufficiently old African genetic samples means we can’t use DNA to geographically place the ancestors of modern Africans living 70,000 years ago; they may have been living well beyond the African continent.

Researchers at the University of La Laguna have suggested that haplogroup L3 entered Africa during a migration, explained in a paper published in December, “Carriers of Mitochondrial DNA macrohaplogroup L3 Basic Lineages Migrated Back to Africa from Asia Around 70,000 Years Ago.” Though the authors of the paper still posit a possible earlier African origin for these migrants, they highlight another glaring anomaly within their data:

“The southern route hypothesis proposes that the Eurasian branches (M and N) of the macrohaplogroup L3 differentiated in or near the African continent and rapidly spread across the Asian peninsulas to reach Australia and Melanesia. Under this assumption, it is expected that, in general, coalescence ages of haplogroups should decrease from Africa to Australia.

However, we have demonstrated that this is not the case. Just on the contrary, the oldest M and N haplogroups are detected in southern China and Australasia instead of India, and associations between longitudinal geographic distances and relative ages of M and N haplogroups run, against to expectation, westwards with younger haplogroup ages going to Africa.”

With confirmation that humans were already living in Australasia 65,000 years ago, and that these people carried the oldest variants of the haplogroups considered ancestral for all modern Eurasians, we can redraw the migration map.

Somewhere between 60,000 to 50,000 years ago, people carrying the identified ancestral lineages began to move through Asia, heading westwards towards Europe and Africa, reaching these lands 45,000 years ago. These migrants are almost certainly Australasians; no other interpretation better fits the evidence.

Once we abandon the reliance upon modern DNA samples and instead focus on archaeology, paleontology, paleoclimate modeling, and archaeogenetic data, the “recent out of Africa theory” is immediately displaced. We may well find that by the end of 2018 a far more harmonious consensus model involving a recent migration out of Australasia.

Bruce R. Fenton: The Forgotten Exodus, A New Theory on Human Evolution

Bruce R. Fenton is a researcher of human evolution and ancient hominin migrations, with a special focus on the rise of the first /Homo sapiens/. Fenton is the author of the pop-science book ‘The Forgotten Exodus: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution’, as well as a regular guest writer for several online magazines. His research interests have taken him to all six inhabited continents and led to his being featured in the UK Telegraph and acting as an expedition leader for the Science Chanel. He is a current member of both the Palaeoanthropology Society and the Scientific and Medical Network.

World’s Oldest Christian Letter Found On 3rd Century Egyptian Papyrus

Oldest Known Christian Autograph Originates From Roman Egypt

Credit: University of Basel

Egypt played a very significant role in the history of early Christianity.

A researcher has announced that she has found the earliest known Christian letter, that was written in Roman Egypt in the 3rd century AD.

The contents of this letter are challenging assumptions about the early followers of Jesus Christ and their world.

Dated from circa 230s AD, the document P.Bas. 2.43 sheds light into the lives of the first Christians of the Roman Empire during a time when they were actively persecuted by the state authorities, especially in the urban areas. 

Intriguingly enough, the letter P.Bas. 2.43 paints a picture of how the Christians had it relatively better in Roman Egypt.

To that end, many of these Christians preferred to reside in the Egyptian hinterlands – where they tended to have political leadership and were able to follow a syncretic mode of religion combining both Christianity and native paganism.  

As for the actual contents of the document P.Bas. 2.43, dating from circa 230s AD, the letter is addressed from a man named Arrianus to his brother Paulus.

Eschewing the typical Greco-Roman greeting formula, it reports the family matters, puts forth a query for the best fish sauce as a souvenir, and then ends with the expressed wish that his brother will prosper “in the Lord.”

In essence, the ancient author uses the abbreviated form of the Christian phrase, also known as the nomen sacrum, “I pray that you farewell ‘in the Lord’”, thereby representing the Christian beliefs of the writer.

Credit: University of Basel

Such a form of greeting matches with the New Testament manuscripts rather than the Greco-Roman greeting template expected from the Roman-Egyptian author.

Furthermore, the very name Paulus (of the letter’s intended recipient) was very rare during the era. And interestingly, it suggests how parents were already beginning to name their children after the famed apostle Paul by as early as 200 AD. 

As for the historicity of the letter P.Bas. 2.43, prosopographical research carried out by experts at the University of Basel revealed that the document is around four to five decades older than the other known Christian letters from around the world.

Moreover, the letter, having its origins in the village of Theadelphia in central Egypt, also alludes to the social background of the author and the recipient and how they were members of an educated, provincial elite, possibly being landowners and even public officials. 

And lastly, as for the Basel papyrus collection, the compilation boasts around 65 documents of various origins, ranging from Ptolemaic, Roman, to Eastern Roman (Byzantine).

Most of them are composed of documentary papyri that provide context to the social, cultural, and religious scope of the era via the records of the daily lives of the people who lived around two millennia ago.

This Ancient Mummy May Be The Oldest-Known Victim Of Heart Failure

FASCINATING! Mummified head and lungs reveal the oldest victim of heart failure!

Left: The Nebiri mummy that may represent the oldest known victim of chronic heart failure. Right: The canopic jar that was used in the study.

Due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and high-fat diets, cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack are often defined as a modern-day affliction.

But scans of a 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy have revealed it was a victim of heart disease.

The mummified head and lungs of Nebiri, an Egyptian chief of stables found in a tomb in Luxor in 1904, have been found to show classic signs of cardiovascular disease seen in more modern patients.

Subsequent scans of other mummies held at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities have also shown they too displayed clear signs of this fatty build-up, known as atherosclerosis.

However, as only the wealthiest and most powerful ancient Egyptians were mummified, it suggests their lifestyles were leading to the problem.

But the findings are also challenging many beliefs about heart disease and shows that rather than being a recent problem it is something that has affected humans for millennia.

Scientists at the University of Turin used 3D reconstructions of Nebiri’s skull from his mummy and found he suffered from severe gum disease and had atherosclerosis in the right carotid artery.

Further scans on lung tissue found in the canopic jar in his tomb, which was partially broken due to looting, also showed it was filled with air sacs.

Dr. Raffaella Bianucci, a medical anthropologist at the University of Turin who presented the findings at the International Congress of Egyptologists in Florence, said:

‘Nebiri was middle-aged – 45 to 60 years old – when he died and he was affected by a severe periodontal disease with several abscesses.

There is evidence of calcification in the right internal carotid artery.

‘It can be confidently concluded that Nebiri died from an acute cardiac failure after having experienced a chronic cardiac insufficiency.’

Nebiri is thought to have been a member of the Egyptian elite who served as the Chief of the Stables during the reign of Thutmoses III, a pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt…