The Dakhla Oasis lies west of the Nile river, between Cairo and Luxor. Egyptologist Garry Shaw follows the trail of one of the earliest visitors to the Oasis, Archibald Edmonstone, around Egypt’s ‘wild west’
It was dawn when I left the White Desert for Farafra. The rising sun had already revealed the petrified zoo of chickens, horses, and sphinxes that had commanded my attention the previous evening. Eroding limestone giants, stretched and unfolded themselves for the new day. The desert foxes, gaunt-faced and curious, had long since scurried away, fed, if not full, from scraps of bread offered by Saleh, my driver. White, jagged splats of limestone appeared like frozen waves upon a yellow ocean. The air was crisp.
The Haggar Temple
A short drive later and I was in Farafra, a half-finished vision of a Wild West outpost, where Saleh, paid and pleased, dropped me off and departed back for Bahariya Oasis, performing an illegal-in-forty-countries U-turn in the process. There, following true Western movie convention, as a stranger in an unfamiliar town, I was immediately picked up by the local police and questioned on my reasons for being in the oasis; more importantly, they wanted to know when I’d be leaving and suggested that I take the 2pm bus.
Senebkay’s skull shows clear impact marks of an axe
In collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities, a University of Pennsylvania team discovered new evidence on the life and death of pharaoh Senebkay, founder of the 16th Dynasty of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt. The pharaoh’s skeleton’s forensic analysis performed by researchers directed by Dr. Josef Wegner indicated that the reason behind the death of this king was due to a number of wounds received during a fierce battle from multiple assailants or an ambush. The skeleton was found by the Pennsylvania mission in 2014 inside the King’s tomb in Abydos, Suhag Governorate, declared Dr. Eldamaty, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities. Read more…
Stela found at Taposiris Magna, inscribed in Hierglyphic and Demotic side by side.
The SCA Archaeological Mission in collaboration with the Catholic University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) working at the Taposiris Magna site succeeded in discovering a limestone stele inscribed with Hieroglyphic and Demotic inscriptions.
The Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Eldamaty stated that the discovered stele contains 20 Hieroglyphic lines with royal cartouches of king “Ptolomy V” whom the stele was inscribed during the seventh year of his reign. Cartouches of Ptolomy’s wife and sister, Queen “Cleopatra I”, his father, King “Ptolomy IV” and his wife “Arsinoe III” also appear.
The Demotic inscriptions that lie at the bottom of the stele consist of five lines of a text that seem to be a translation and a copy of the previous Hieroglyphic lines. Eldamaty added that the stele is a 105 cm. length, 65 cm. width and 18 cm. thick.
A Significant Discovery
The Antiquities Minister stressed that the importance of this discovery lies in the different scripts forming it, resembling the Rosetta Stone which was inscribed in the ninth year of king “Ptolomy V” ‘s reign which means two years after this Stele was inscribed.
Tetradrachm of Ptolemy V
The stele is an excat copy of the stele of Philae Temple – Aswan which dates back also to king “Ptolomy V” that reflects the king’s offering a huge area of Nubia to the goddess Isis and her priests.
On the other hand, Chief of the Dominican Egyptian Mission, Dr. Kathleen Martinez added that the mission has been working for six years at Taposiris Magna Site and made a lot of important discoveries concerning the history of Alexandria in general. Some of the major discoveries are tombs of Nobles and a number of statues of the goddess Isis in addition to many bronze coins belonging to Queen “Cleopatra”.
Supreme Council for Antiquities (Egypt), via Past Preservers
The gods were responsible for teaching humans how to write. Without their divine involvement, it would have been impossible for us, imperfect mortals, to develop such a valuable and powerful skill. This, and other similar explanations, was the way that most ancient societies accounted for the existence of writing.
Itzamná in the Maya Book of the Dead
Itzamná, the Mayan god and ruler of heaven, was the inventor of writing in Mesoamerica, just like Odin in Norse mythology was the god who invented the runes. Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and scribe of the gods, was responsible for the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury), related to the Egyptian Thoth by some Greeks, was the creator of the Greek alphabet. Even those Greeks who had a more rational explanation for the origin of the alphabet relied on a legendary figure who although was no god, was still mythical: Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes according to Greek folklore (Herodotus, 5.58). Read more…
I was chatting with my uncle about the archaeological reliefs in the Governorate of Sulaymaniyah. The Governorate is part of Iraqi Kurdistan and is about 400 km north-west of Baghdad. He said that he saw a relief in the year 1985 on a top of a mountain, south-west of the city of Sulaymaniyah. The name of the relief, as the local villagers call it, is Naram-Sin (Arabic: نارام سين ; Kurdish: نيرام سن). This happens to also be the name Sargon the Great‘s grandson; Naram-Sin of Akkad (reigned 2261-2224 BCE). Interesting!
Ok, let’s go. I drove my car and in about 2 hours, I reached the area my uncle had talked about (there is a road from the main street up to the top of the mountain, which was made by the local government). After that, I had to use my feet. From the top of the mountain, I descended down into a valley-like crevice. It is not that dangerous if you are familiar with hiking. Finally, there you are!
The dead silence of the mountain top, together with the wind and the sound of the tree branches, make you feel the history and smell its 4000 years’ scent.
The rock relief lies on the cliff side of Darband-i-Gawr (which means the pass of the pagan). This pass is part of the south-eastern side of the Qara Dagh (also written Kara Dagh) mountain range. Qara Dagh is a Turkish term which means the “black mountain.” It is a double range of cretaceous limestone, reaching a height of more than 1,700 meters above sea level.
This is where the road ends. I had to descend through this crevice (on the right of the viewer) which leads to a valley within the mountain top, Darband-i-Gawr.
Nestled in the middle of the Iglesiente mountains in the southwestern part of Sardinia, the ruins of the Punic-Roman Temple of Antas offer visitors a truly majestic sight. After lying abandoned for centuries, the temple was discovered in 1838 and extensively restored in 1967. Most impressively, the original Ionic columns were excavated and re-erected. The present visible structure dates to the 3rd century AD on a floor-plan from the Augustan age.
Temple of Antas, a Punic-Roman temple, first built around 500 BC, and restored around 300 BC, the Roman temple was built under Augustus and restored under Caracalla, Sardinia © Carole Raddato
The Creative Assembly has produced a short documentary on Attila the Hun to celebrate the launch of their latest historical computer game, Total War: ATTILA (also read our interview with the game’s lead designer). This seven minute film summarizes the life of Attila, his achievements, his cruel reputation, and his legacy. The documentary mixes narrative by Dr. Paul Harrison with 3D footage and historical reenactors.
Continue reading for more videos and background information on the game Total War: ATTILA.
One of the most important discoveries in marine archaeological history occurred in 1998, just off Indonesia’s Belitung Island in the western Java Sea: A 1,200-year-old Arabian dhow with an astounding cargo of gold, silver, ceramic artifacts, coins, and tangible personal effects. The ship’s hold contained some 57,000 pieces in total and yet no human remains. The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route, now on show at the newly opened Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, explores the movement of cross-cultural exchange, trade, and technology between the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 CE) and Tang dynasty China (618-907 CE) through the prism of an ancient shipwreck.In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Mr. John Vollmer, Guest Curator for the Aga Khan Museum’s presentation of this exhibition, about the importance of the objects in this exhibition and what the exhibition means to the recently opened museum.
Ancient history is becoming more and more popular in gaming, but you rarely find a game that truly tries to bring ancient history to the modern world. Enter Apotheon, an indie game developed by the small team at Alientrap games, which looks like an animated scene from ancient Greek Black Figure Pottery. The game not only looks ancient, but it also uses the correct ancient names for items (the hero’s sword is a xiphos), and there are quotes from ancient writers included in the game. As you might expect from a computer game set in ancient Greece, you save all of humanity by wrestling with gods on Mount Olympus… Epic, in short.
It’s a nod to the side-scrolling games of the early 90s, along the lines of Commander Keen or Great Giana Sisters, and it would be fair to compare it to recent hits like Trine. Metacritic currently gives it a score of 82%, which is pretty decent for an indie game, but it’s not a huge hit either. We haven’t played it here at Ancient History et cetera yet, but we’re definitely interested! And we’ll try to get an interview with the developers for you.