Archaeologists in Egypt Unearth 5,000 Year Old Necropolis

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced that the Australian archaeological mission working in Ezbit El-Walda area have unearthed a 5,000-year-old necropolis with 20 well-preserved tombs in that site just outside Cairo. The site in the suburb of Helwan is a host of small plain tombs with larger ones meant for the middle and upper classes, containing alabaster, limestone, clay and copper pots and pans, Hosni said. The necropolis also contains a limestone relief with early uses of hieroglyphic texts.

Two large limestone tombs found at the site date back to the Old Kingdom, 2575-2134 B.C. and contain a collection of small chapels and niches.

Remains of old Alexandria lighthouse found

A team from the Alexandrian Studies Centre has recently found huge granite masses, one of which weighs 15 tons, found ten meters underwater. The pieces proved to be remains of the old Alexandria lighthouse one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The find is so important that it could revive the idea of rebuilding the lighthouse, which was built by Sostratos in the age of Ptolemy II (285-246 BC).

It was built of stone cut from the quarries of AL Max and was embellished by marble and bronze. It is said that the stones were not fixed to each other by mortar but by molten lead. As to the shape of the lighthouse, it took the form of eight towers graded from the largest to the smallest. The ground floor was 60 metres high and had wide ornamented windows and 300 rooms allocated for machines and as a residence for workers.

On top of the lighthouse there was a large room from where a fire pole remained burning all night long and then turned to smoke during the day time. The lighthouse used to have a huge mirror, which according to myth, reflected the whole of the city. The mirror and the brazier at the top created the large amount of light ever produced by a lighthouse. As such the lighthouse of Alexandria influenced man’s initial thinking about the uses of lenses.

The lighthouse remained functioning until the Arab conquest in 641 AD. In 673 Hajira, King Bebars visited Alexandria and ordered its restoration. He built a mosque on its upper part. In 880 Hajira, Ibn Thlon also ordered its restoration. However, in 1100 a strong earthquake hit Alexandria and the lighthouse collapsed except for the ground square-shaped part. The earthquake that occurred later on in the 14th century destroyed the remaining part.

In 1580, Sultan Qaitbay established the citadel named after him at the exact site of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse then disappeared for ever but there remained a miniature of it found at Abu Sir in Mariut and which exists at present at the Greco- Roman museum.

MUSEUM NEWS

Second hall opens to mummies at the Egyptian Museum

The second hall of royal mummies will be opened next month at the Egyptian Museum. The hall that will display a collection of 12 mummies is a new asset to the museum which already exhibits eleven royal mummies. The new hall enjoys up-to-date facilities to secure the exhibits against fire and theft and the distribution of light.

The hall is provided with temperature and humidity control devices and allows easy circulation for visitors. The showcases are supplied with inert gases to prevent viruses and fungi. Among the mummies to be displayed are those of Tohotmos III, Tohotmos I, Amenhoteb II, Seti II, Ramsis III, Ramsis IX, and Queen Ahmos Nefertari.

Italian archeological missions exhibition opens in Egypt

The Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary-General, Dr. Zahi Hawas opened the exhibition of a hundred years of archaeology work by the Italian missions. The exhibition will be organized at the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

World offers to fund largest antiquities museum

Minister of Culture Dr. Farouk Hosni asserted that the world financing institutions offered to contribute to funding the biggest antiquities museum in Fayoum desert-road with costs hitting some $ 350 million.

The Minister said that by December, the first phase of the museum would open for the restoration works of about 100 pieces of antiquities.

The Minister further said that the present Egyptian Museum located in Tahrir Square will be updated according to the most advanced means to be confined to the antiquities and monuments that describe the ancient Egyptian daily life, noting that there will not be any duplication of displaying the antiquities in both the old and new museums.

The establishment of the new museum will be completed in a five-year period.

RENOVATIONS

L.E. 25 Million renovation of Mamluke era cemetery

The Eastern Cemetery which falls between Salah Salem Street and the Cairo Autostrad is one of the significant old cemeteries used by kings and princes from the end of the 14th century AD.

By the end of the 15th century, there had been a collection of architectural structures rarely found in one place pertaining to the Mamluke age. The cemetery contains more than 20 domes of mausoleums, nine of which are annexed to mosques.

The Supreme Council for Antiquities has worked out a L.E.25 million plan as a first stage to restore wooden and metal ornamental elements of some of the landmarks and determine the archeological precincts with a fence. The collection of Farag Ibn Barquq will be the first to be restored as it is considered the largest collection established in Egyptian cemeteries to serve a variety of purposes.

It includes a mosque for religious rituals, a Khanqah which is a residence for sufists, a madressah for recitation of the Quran and teaching religious sciences and tombs for sultans. Dust will be removed from the mosque and the surrounding wall will be rebuilt in such a way as to fit in with the overall style of the mosque.

The court, the niche and the sufist quarters are to be tiled whereas the dilapidated windows are to be re-fixed. The strips of writing found in the two domes of the mosque are to be restored and re-guided following the example of the existing sound parts.

The electricity grid is also to be renovated and the whole area surrounding the complex has to be upgraded.

The first stage of restoration will moreover include the mosque of Enal and the dome of Assfur which are part of the complex of the Mamluke Sultan Enal that comprises a madressah, a dome, a sebil and a Khanqah.

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