Category Archives: AFRICA

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum

A five-hundred-year-old mystery murder could be solved after forensic experts found Ginger, the Egyptian mummy housed at the British Museum, was a young man stabbed in the back during peacetime.

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum
Ginger, the Egyptian mummy housed at the British Museum

Forensic scientists have moved closer to solving a 5,500-year-old cold case crime after new technology allowed them to study fatal wounds on the body of a famous mummy.

The corpse, known officially as the Gebelein Man, has been nicknamed Ginger due to his red hair and seen by millions of visitors to the British Museum.

Experts, who used digital images and scanning technology, have now concluded he was almost certainly murdered by an assailant who caught him by surprise.

His injuries suggest he was the victim of a deliberate, violent killing during a period of peace, with his shoulder blade damaged and the rib underneath shattered in a manner consistent with a stab wound.

The virtual autopsy table reveals the stab wound of Gebelein Man. Photographer: Kristofer Jannson

That, in combination with a lack of defensive wounds, indicates Ginger was caught by surprise and stabbed in the back as he went about his daily business.

The mummy, which has lain in the British Museum since 1901, was moved temporarily to Cromwell Hospital in West London to undergo a CAT scan, allowing experts to study his internal organs for the first time.

Ginger is now believed to have been aged between 18 and 21 when he died, with developed muscles.

He was stabbed by a blade of copper or flint at least five inches long.

The virtual autopsy table reveals the skeleton of Gebelein Man. Photographer: Kristofer Jannson

Daniel Antoine, curator of physical anthropology at the museum said: “Not only have we been able to discover that Gebelein Man was young when he died but, unexpectedly, the 3D visualization of the CT scan has confirmed that he was stabbed in the back.

“The analysis of ancient human remains rarely reveals the cause of death but the cut on his back, as well as the damage to the underlying shoulder blade and rib, are characteristic of a single penetrating wound.”

He added the lack of defensive wounds suggests Ginger was caught by surprise rather than being killed in battle.

Experts found the blow, delivered to his shoulder blade, was so forceful it shattered a rib immediately, embedding bone fragments into his muscle tissue, and injuring the left lung and surrounding blood vessels.

The absence of any signs of healing and the severity of the injuries suggest that this can be considered the cause of death, a spokeswoman for the British Museum said.

Visitors to the museum can now use a touch screen on the “virtual operating table” to examine the body more closely than ever before, in an attempt to find clues about his life and death.

The body was discovered in 1896 in a shallow grave in the Egyptian sand. He is believed to have lived around 3,500 BC in an area close to the Nile and about 25 miles south of Thebes.

He is considered to be of the best-preserved mummies in the world, after the heat and sand combined to keep his body largely intact.

It is not known whether Ginger’s murderer was ever caught.

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.

Mummy, I’m gonna be a Mommy: Egyptians used an Amazingly Accurate Pregnancy Test

Mummy, I’m gonna be a Mommy: Egyptians used an Amazingly Accurate Pregnancy Test

For example, it was so helpful for women to understand 3,500 years ago if she was pregnant and not, as it is today. We have a lot more in common with ancient people than we might believe.

Though many people might mock the practices of the ancient sciences, the ancient astrology in Egypt was state-of-the-art technology! —you’ve got to hand it to them: Some of their scientific methods have turned out to be pretty accurate.

In the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, some unpublished ancient Egyptian medical papers indicated that they had in the way of pregnancy tests was grain — specifically barley and wheat.

To test for pregnancy, the woman was to urinate into a bag of barley and a bag of emmer. Then wait.

According to one papyrus text from around 1400 B.C.E., in order for a woman to determine whether she was pregnant or not, all she had to do was urinate in two different bags — one filled with barley and the other with wheat.

If the grain in either bag sprouted after being peed on, the woman was definitely with child and could start planning accordingly.

Papyrus, written in demotic script in the 35th year of Amasis II (viz. 533 BC, 26th Dynasty).
The Edwin Smith papyrus, the world’s oldest surviving surgical document. Written in a hieratic script in ancient Egypt around 1600 BC, the text describes anatomical observations and the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of 48 types of medical problems in exquisite detail.

But wait, there’s more! In order to tell the sex of her new child, the woman simply had to wait and see which of the grains sprouted first.

If the barley sprouted faster, the baby would be a boy; if the wheat sprouted first, it would be a girl child.

According to the National Institute of Health, a study conducted in 1963 found that this method of determining pregnancy is accurate about 70 percent of the time — not bad, ancient Egyptians! — although it wasn’t accurate at all when it came to determining the sex of the baby.

Modern pregnancy tests rely on proteins that can detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), but scientists speculate that this old-timey test worked so well because elevated levels of estrogen in a woman’s urine might have promoted seed growth.

Researchers currently poring over the papyri in the Carlsberg Collection are finding that medical information discovered in ancient Egypt didn’t disappear when the Library of Alexandria burned — by that time it had made its way all over the African continent and beyond.

“Many of the ideas in the medical texts from ancient Egypt appear again in later Greek and Roman texts,” Sofie Schiødt, a Ph.D. student from the University of Copenhagen, told ScienceNordic. “From here, they spread further to the medieval medical texts in the Middle East, and you can find traces all the way up to premodern medicine.”

The moral of this story is that women have always needed useful reproductive health advice, and if they have to get it from an ancient empire that doesn’t even exist anymore, so be it.

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.

Divers find temples and treasure in Egypt’s ancient city of Heracleion

Divers find temples and treasure in Egypt’s ancient city of Heracleion

A trove of artefacts, including the remains of a temple, gold jewelry, coins and the missing piece of a ceremonial ship, have been found by divers swimming through Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city now underwater.

Heracleion — named after the legendary Hercules, who ancient people believed actually visited the city — was a bustling metropolis in its day.

When it was built in about the eighth century B.C., it sat on the edge of the Nile River, next to the Mediterranean Sea. Cleopatra was even crowned in one of its temples.

Then, about 1,500 years ago, it flooded and now sits under about 150 feet (45 meters) of water.

Ever since archaeologists discovered it in 2000, Heracleion (also known as Thonis) has slowly revealed its ancient secrets.

During the latest two-month excavation, archaeologists were delighted to find the remains of a large temple, including its stone columns, and the crumbling remnants of a small Greek temple, which was buried under 3 feet (1 m) of sediment on the seafloor, the ministry reported.

The excavation team of Egyptian and European archaeologists was led by Franck Goddio, the underwater archaeologist who discovered Heracleion 19 years ago.

Together, the team used a scanning tool that transmits images of artifacts resting on the seafloor and those buried beneath it.

A gold earring found at the underwater site.

The scanning tool revealed part of a boat. During past excavations, archaeologists had found 75 boats, although not all of them were complete.

This new finding was the missing part of boat 61, which was likely used for ceremonial purposes, the Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement.

It wasn’t a small boat, either. When the archaeologists pieced boat 61 together, it measured 43 feet long and 16 feet across (13 m by 5 m). 

The ship held tiny treasures — coins of bronze and gold, as well as jewelry. The bronze coins uncovered at Heracleion date to the time of King Ptolemy II, who ruled from 283 to 246 B.C.

The team also discovered pottery dating to the third and fourth centuries B.C., the ministry noted.

One of the coins found during the underwater excavation.

The team also looked at the underwater site of Canopus, which, like Heracleion, is located in the Gulf of Abu Qir, Alexandria.

At Canopus, the archaeologists found an ancient building complex that extended the city’s footprint southward about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), the ministry said.

Canopus also held other treasures; the archaeologists found an ancient port, coins from the Ptolemaic and Byzantine periods, and rings and earrings from Ptolemaic times.

All of these artifacts indicate that Canopus was a busy city from the fourth century B.C. to the Islamic era.