Stories tagged Egypt

Mar
16
2009

Bending pyramid rules: An engineering adjustment on the fly changed the dimensions of the Bent Pyramid of Dasher, giving the pyramid its unique shape and its name.
Bending pyramid rules: An engineering adjustment on the fly changed the dimensions of the Bent Pyramid of Dasher, giving the pyramid its unique shape and its name.Courtesy Ivrienen
The pyramids of Giza get all the hype, but there are plenty of other cool pyramids to check out in Egypt. And this week, one of the most unique pyramids in the region will have greater access to the public.

The burial chamber of the Bent Pyramid in Dashar will have its inner chambers opened to the public. Only about five percent of the tourists in Egypt go to see the Bent Pyramid, which is too bad in my mind.

I actually haven't been to Egypt but have been working on a new traveling exhibit about Egypt and archaeology, and that's how I learned about the Bent Pyramid. As you can see by the accompanying photo, it has a very unique shape. It's believed that the Bent Pyramid started out to be the tallest pyramid ever constructed. But engineering problems encountered along the way forced a redesign of that concept, lowering the angle of the pyramid's ascent and giving it a "bent" appearance.

Having full access into a burial chamber of a pyramid is a rare thing. Human traffic, and the moisture that comes from all those people's breaths, are not conducive to a pyramid's dry interior. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist, was so concerned with the twists and turns of the Bent Pyramid's winding tunnels on his first trip inside that he had aides tie a rope around his waist so they could pull him out if he got lost.

All in all, it adds up to be another great reason to some day visit Egypt. Have you already been there, or some other points of interest in Egypt? Share them here with other Buzz readers.

Archaeologists in Egypt have found made a massive find of mummies at an excavation near Saqqara. Read all the details of the find here.

There's been burst of pyramid news coming from Egypt. Last week we had a report of a new 4,300-year-old pyramid being discovered in Saqqara. Now we have information about a new theory that much of the Great Pyramid was built from an internal tunnel and ramp. Learn more about it here.

While it has all the trappings of a campy daytime TV show, science will actually be work now that researchers have found two mummified fetuses in the tomb of King Tut. Read this to learn about how they'll be analyzed and what Egyptologists hope to learn from these discoveries.

When it comes to studying ancient Egypt, we know a lot about pyramids and monunments, mummies and art work. But there is still a huge gap in knowing what life was like for everyday Egyptians. But University of Chicago archaeologists have uncovered the remains of seven silos in southern Egypt that help tell the story of how food was distributed in an old Egyptian city. Click here to learn more.

Jun
06
2008

Buried neighbor: The Step Pyramid of Saqqara is a close neighbor to the buried pyramid that was discovered recently in Egypt. Archaeologists had to dig throug 25 feet of sand to find the pyramid's remains.
Buried neighbor: The Step Pyramid of Saqqara is a close neighbor to the buried pyramid that was discovered recently in Egypt. Archaeologists had to dig throug 25 feet of sand to find the pyramid's remains.Courtesy Charlesjsharp
Are you missing a pyramid? Well, one was found this week in Saqqara, Egypt, under about 25 feet of sand.

Actually, it’s the base of a collapsed pyramid that is believed to have been built for King Menkauhor, who ruled Egypt in the mid 2400s B.C.

And the discovery should really come as no surprise. During the 1800s, German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius had recorded that there were remains of a collapsed pyramid at the site. No one really did anything with that information until recently.

It took crews a year and a half to dig through the 25 feet of sand that had accumulated over the pyramid site just to get to its remains. Saqqara, located near Cairo, is the site of several other famous pyramids. It is also the site of the ancient city Memphis, which was the royal seat of power during much of early Egyptian history.

And this could all just be the start of a lot more to come. Egyptian government officials want to relocate people who now live close to the Saqqara site so more extensive digging can be done in the area. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, estimates that only 30 percent of the temples and tombs of Saqqara have been found.

"Saqqara is a virgin site," he told National Geographic. "It's very important for us to do this excavation to understand more about the pyramids of the Old Kingdom."

Links:
National Geographic report
National Geographic video of the find

Jun
02
2008

Submerged treasures: Underwater archaeologists, like this one, are now swimming and searching the upper Nile River looking for ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Submerged treasures: Underwater archaeologists, like this one, are now swimming and searching the upper Nile River looking for ancient Egyptian artifacts.Courtesy Viv Hamilton
Archaeologists dig and sift their way to finding the clues of previous cultures, right?

Not all the time. A recent project in Egypt has archaeologists donning wet suits and scuba gear to find cool things from ancient Egyptian culture.

The changing course of the Nile River has necessitated archaeologists going “hydro” in their search. And last month they discovered an entryway to a temple near Aswan in Upper Egypt.

It’s the first major underwater discovery of Egypt antiquities for a multi-year project that began this year. The under-water discovery is an entryway to a temple dedicated to Khnum, the ram-headed god of fertility.

Made of massive rocks that weigh in the tons, the portico can’t be taken away from its submerged home, but divers were able to remove a one-ton stone that are part of the entryway that has inscriptions that could give more clues to when it was built, what its purpose was or other information about life from that ancient time.

The larger scope of the project is to do a complete survey of the riverbed of the Nile from Aswan to Luxor starting this fall. Along with the changing course of the river of the centuries, archaeologists think they’ll be able to find artifacts that had fallen overboard while being shipped on the river. Some artifacts are known to be in the waters having been recorded lost through accidents from Egyptian treasure seekers in earlier centuries.

May
02
2008

King or queen of Egypt: This statue depicts Akhenaten, a pharaoh of Egypt  who some believe suffered a rare genetic disease that gave him a very feminine appearance.
King or queen of Egypt: This statue depicts Akhenaten, a pharaoh of Egypt who some believe suffered a rare genetic disease that gave him a very feminine appearance.Courtesy Gérard Ducher
In the movies, Egyptian pharaohs have that manly-man look with rippling biceps, clean-shaved heads and steely eyes.

But upon further review, it’s considered that one of ancient Egypt’s leaders my have been – in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger – “a girly man.”

A recent conference that does posthumous analysis of the medical conditions of famous people through history, this year looked at the genetic make up of Akhenaten, a pharaoh whose reign was believed to be around 1353 BC to 1336 BC. He is also considered the likely father of Tutankhamun, better known to us today as King Tut.

Through analysis of statues and artistic renderings of Akhenaten, a Yale University doctor proposes that the pharaoh suffered from Marfan syndrome which makes males have a much more feminine appearance. The condition makes the body convert a larger share of male hormones into female hormones than what normally occurs in male bodies.

Through artistic depiction, Akhenaten strikes a more female pose, with long fingers, wider hips, larger breasts and female-shaped eyes. Also, Akhenaten had an egg-shaped head which might have been the result of problems of skull bones fusing at an early age.

Another view: Here's another statue of Akhenaten. Do you think he might have suffered from Marfan syndrome?
Another view: Here's another statue of Akhenaten. Do you think he might have suffered from Marfan syndrome?Courtesy Paul Mannix
Despite his female appearance, Akhenaten was a prodigious reproducer. His chief wife was Nefertiti, who is often depicted in Egyptian art. All total, Akhenaten was known to have fathered six daughters and may have also been the father of Tutankhamun.

But here’s the big caveat: The researchers acknowledge that these theories are based solely on their observations of Akhenaten from works of art. They’re hoping to get clearance from Egyptian officials to do DNA analysis on Akhenaten’s remains to see if there are signs of Marfan syndrome there.

BTW: Akhenaten is one of the more intriguing pharaoh’s from ancient Egypt. There are theories that he worked with, or even actually was, the Jewish prophet Moses. There is another theory that he was the source of the Greek’s creation of the Oedipus complex story. You can get more background on these Akhenaten theories at this Wikipedia page.

The historical medical conference, held this week at the University of Maryland, in past years as delved into the medical histories of such luminaries as Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Florence Nightingale.

Apr
17
2008

Walk to an Egyptian Pharaoh: This tunnel through another pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings gives an idea of the elaborate wall art that adorns such structures.
Walk to an Egyptian Pharaoh: This tunnel through another pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings gives an idea of the elaborate wall art that adorns such structures.Courtesy Sebi
Dig around in Egypt and you’ll never know what you’ll find. Archaeologists there have been poking around the huge tomb of Seti I, the largest known tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, only to discover that it’s 100 feet longer than originally thought.

The full details of the discovery can be found at this National Geographic link.

Seni I’s tomb was first discovered in 1817 and the burial chamber measured a whopping 328 feet long, about the length of a football field. Through the newly unearthed secret passages, an additional 100 feet of the tomb has now been discovered. And there could be more.

But in this new 100 feet of tomb space and tunnels, archaeologists have found more tomb wall art and other funerary artifacts. And there could be additional tunnels to discover branching off from these new passages.

An all-Egyptian team of archaeologists made this latest discovery. And they’ll keep on working in the Valley of the Kings. Graffiti found on walls of other tombs in the area state that there are nearby tombs for pharaohs Ramses VIII and Merenptah.

I've stumbled upon to some cool BBC webpages that give you the chance to go back in time to be a cyber gladiator, viking or Egyptian mummy maker. Click and enjoy!