2 New Ancient Tombs Discovered in Luxor, Egypt Attract Flood of Tourists


By AHMED HATEM, Associated Press

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — Egypt on Saturday announced the discovery of two small ancient tombs in the southern city Luxor dating back some 3,500 years and hoped it will help the country's efforts to revive its ailing tourism sector.

The tombs, located on the west bank of the river Nile in a cemetery for noblemen and top officials, are the latest discovery in the city famed for its temples and tombs spanning different dynasties of ancient Egyptian history.


"It's truly an exceptional day," Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said. "The 18th dynasty private tombs were already known. But it's the first time to enter inside the two tombs."

Al-Anani said the discoveries are part of the ministry's efforts to promote Egypt's vital tourism industry, partially driven by antiquities sightseeing, that was hit hard by extremist attacks and political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

The ministry said one tomb has a courtyard lined with mud-brick and stone walls and contains a six-meter (yard) burial shaft leading to four side chambers. The artifacts found inside were mostly fragments of wooden coffins. Wall inscriptions and paintings suggest it belongs to era between the reigns of King Amenhotep II and King Thutmose IV, both pharaohs of the 18th dynasty.

The other tomb has five entrances leading to a rectangular hall and contains two burial shafts located in the northern and southern sides of the tomb.

Among the artifacts found inside are funerary cones, painted wooden funerary masks, clay vessels, a collection of some 450 statues and a mummy wrapped in linen who was likely a top official. A cartouche carved on the ceiling bears the name of King Thutmose I of the early 18th dynasty, the ministry said.

Afterward, al-Anani headed to a nearby site where the famous Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is located to open for the first time the temple's main sanctuary known as the "Holy of Holies."

Since the beginning of 2017, the Antiquities Ministry has made a string of discoveries in several provinces across Egypt — including the tomb of a royal goldsmith, in the same area and belonging to the same dynasty, whose work was dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Amun.


UN Voices Alarm About Spread of HIV in Egypt


By NARIMAN EL-MOFTY, Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — The U.N. is voicing alarm over the spread of HIV in Egypt, where the number of new cases is growing by up to 40 percent a year, and where efforts to combat the epidemic are hampered by social stigma and a lack of funding to address the crisis.

The virus that causes AIDS, U.N. officials say, is infecting more young and adolescent people than any other age group.

Egypt, home to some 95 million people, ranks behind only Iran, Sudan and Somalia in the Middle East for the rate at which the epidemic is spreading, according to U.N. figures. In Egypt, patients are often jailed on trumped up charges and ostracized by society. The disease is associated with homosexuality, which is not explicitly illegal but is widely seen as a transgression against religion and nature in the conservative, Muslim-majority country.

"There is a 25-30 percent increase in incidents every year... It's is alarming to us because the growth of the epidemic and the discontinuation of interest from donors in funding," Ahmed Khamis, of the U.N. AIDS agency, told The Associated Press.

Estimates of the number of people living with HIV in Egypt vary. UNAIDS says there are over 11,000 cases, while the country's Health Ministry estimates the figure to be around 7,000.

The rise in the number of new infections, however, is not in dispute.

"Most recently, we've been seeing people of a much younger age group infected with the virus. There is a higher risk now for adolescents and youths than in the past," said Khamis.

"We don't have exact numbers, but this is what the evidence we are seeing on the ground is suggesting," he added, explaining that the lack of funds is hampering Egypt's capacity to produce precise figures.

Patients who require surgical intervention are often unable to access basic health care at hospitals because of the associated stigma, UNAIDS officials said.

The virus can be spread through sexual contact, as well as contaminated needles or syringes, or blood transfusions. It can also be passed from infected women to their babies at birth or through breast-feeding. But in Egypt, the virus is widely associated with homosexuality, which is seen by many Egyptians as a lifestyle choice.

In a recent conference on AIDS, Islamic scholar and cleric Ali al-Jifri spoke about the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS patients. "A person diagnosed with HIV is a human. We should never question their diagnosis," he told the conference.

A Christian priest, Bolous Soror, told the conference that Egyptians should accept others, regardless of their HIV status.

Shunned by society, it is not uncommon for patients to contemplate suicide.

Ahmed, 40, is one of them. He has been trying to gain asylum status in the U.S. because, he says, he has lost hope in a future in Egypt.

"I do not want to be living a life always feeling strapped down and imprisoned," he told his therapist during a session attended by an AP reporter. Fearing further stigma, he asked that he be identified only by his first name.

In an anonymous testimony given to UNAIDS and seen by the AP, one woman said she was infected by her late husband and later found it hard to live in a society that rejects people carrying the virus. She was beaten and denied by her family an inheritance she and her children were legally entitled to when her husband died. When she attempted to start a new life with her children in a different neighborhood, her in-laws made sure her new neighbors learned about her condition.

The First Man Mummified Like King Tut in 3,000 Years was Terminally Ill Taxi Driver from England

The late Mr. Billis became the first man mummified in the style of the ancient Egyptians for at least 3,000 years.

Mr. Alan Billis was a taxi driver in Torquay, England who loved documentaries and history. One day saw an ad seeking people willing to be embalmed in the same way as ancient Egypt's King Tutankhamen and, as he was dying from lung cancer, signed up. When he did die at age 61 from the cancer, scientists used the ancient Egyptian embalming techniques not used since 1,323 BC on King Tut's body. 


Mr. Billis' wife Janet and their three grown-up children all gave this their blessing. She said "He just said, 'I’ve just phoned someone up about being mummified.' "I said, 'You’ve what?' I thought here we go again. It’s just the sort of thing you would expect him to do."


Torquay's Tutankhamun

English Channel 4's program called "Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret" recently aired on TV dubbing Alan "Torquay’s Tutankhamun." In the documentary he says,

"People have been leaving their bodies to science for years, and if people don’t volunteer for anything nothing gets found out."

The experts: Professor Vanezis, Dr. Buckley, Dr. Fletcher and Maxine Coe with a mummified Alan Billis before them

The experts: Professor Vanezis, Dr. Buckley, Dr. Fletcher and Maxine Coe with a mummified Alan Billis before them

Except for Mr. Billis' heart and brain, all his internal organs were taken out and put in jars over several months. To preserve his skin, scientists soaked the body in a mix of oils, Natron salt, and resins for a month in a glass tank in the Medico-Legal Center in Sheffield. Afterwards, they put it into a drying chamber and wrapped it in linen fabric.

According to Dr. Stephen Buckley from the University of York that researched Egyptian mummification techniques, believes Mr. Ballis' body will last for thousands of years.

Dr. Stephen Buckley with mummified Mr. Billis

Dr. Stephen Buckley with mummified Mr. Billis

It's good to note how Mrs. Ballis' feels about all this during and after the process. She told the Radio Times,

I didn’t find it upsetting. There wasn’t anything scary. I think it was because you could see they all took such good care of Alan.

When I did eventually watch the film and saw his mummified face, you could see it was still him, still very much Alan.

’I won’t be Tutankhamun, I’ll be Tutanalan,’ he used to say. The involvement in the television programme kept him occupied, took his mind off the illness.
— Mrs. Ballis

Original Mummies

If you want to check out a real Egyptian mummy, you can see King Rameses III in Egypt's Cairo Museum. As for "Tutan-Alan," he will be being studied by scientists researching decomposition. 

The forensic pathologist overseeing the project, Professor Peter Vanezis was impressed with the results saying,  

"The skin itself has this leathery appearance which indicates that he has become mummified all over. It makes me very confident that his tissues have been mummified correctly and in a very successful manner."

So are you now considering volunteering your body for scientific research? Do you think ancient Egyptians mummified their bodies so future generations could clone them to resurrect their royal bloodline? 


Controversial Plastination Exhibits

Besides mummifying via embalming, there's another technique called plastination. This requires fresh bodies whose fluids have not congealed too much because a plasticine solvent replaces the blood and other bodily fluids. When this hardens, the tissues basically become plastic. 


There has been a lot of controversy surrounding a Chinese-based plastination company who cannot prove it got their bodies from willing volunteers nor from bodies left "unclaimed." This company has been parading hundreds of the "unknown" Chinese corpses on display around the world in the Body Exhibitions fully nude with some even engaging in sex acts (which we will not show here). Needless to say, this has sparked shock, outrage, and protests.

According to traditional Chinese culture, the remains of the deceased are treated with great respect and honor. Many Chinese are simply repulsed by such a concept of publicly displaying naked dead bodies. This exhibition is doing something quite different than ancient Egypt preserving their royalty's bodies wrapped up and contained in intricately decorated sarcophaguses. It's even different than privately studying the bodies for medical research, which are also required to be donated. 

A New York Times report found that “Here in China, determining who is in the body business and where the bodies come from is not easy. Museums that hold body exhibitions in China say they have suddenly ‘forgotten’ who supplied their bodies, police officials have regularly changed their stories about what they have done with bodies, and even universities have confirmed and then denied the existence of body preservation operations on their campuses.

In May 2008, a settlement with the attorney general of New York obliged Premier Exhibitions, Sui’s exhibition partner, to publish a disclaimer on its website and at the exhibition hall, stating that the origin of Dalian Hoffen’s cadavers was from ‘the Chinese Bureau of Police.’

This means these bodies are likely from innocent prisoners of conscience who are victims of a brutal and immoral communist regime. 

The largest population of such prisoners in China are of Falun Gong practitioners, who believe in living by the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance and practice a set of qigong-like slow-moving exercises. They have no political aspirations, are non-violent, have no membership system, and don't charge anything.

This kind of traditional self-cultivation practice was well-known and common in Chinese traditional culture. Think of Taoists practicing martial arts and meditation up in the mountains, Buddhist monks farming, training, meditating, and studying Buddhist sutras in temples. It was made available to the public in 1992 by Shifu Li Hongzhi in China and spread by word of mouth to millions of people because of health benefits and being completely free.

However, despite great benefits to society and public popularity, the communist regime could not make money off of it and feared people would become harder to control under its atheistic communist ideology. So, in 1999 the communist dictator Jiang Zemin launched a brutal and unconstitutional persecution campaign arresting, torturing, raping, murdering, and even harvesting organs of Falun Gong practitioners and others.






Egypt Finally Reveals Unseen King Tut Artifacts


By SAMY MAGDY, Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt opened an exhibition on Wednesday to display previously unseen treasures from King Tutankhamun's famed tomb.

At least 55 pieces of fabric decorated with gold that were found in the tomb of the pharaoh, better known as King Tut, will be exhibited in public for the first time since its discovery in 1922, said German conservator Christian Eckmann.

He said the pieces had been kept in storage at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for some 95 years, without being restored or scientifically examined.

He said the artifacts attest to the network of social and cultural connections which have characterized the eastern Mediterranean going back to antiquity.

"Those pieces are connected to the chariots of Tutankhamun," he said. "They were unfortunately in a very bad state of condition."

Some depict traditional Egyptian motifs, while others feature designs that were widespread throughout the eastern Mediterranean in the second millennium B.C., he said.

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anani inaugurated the exhibition to mark the 115th anniversary of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun's near-intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The king's mummified body was in a golden coffin surrounded by precious goods.

Tutankhamun ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. The discovery of the tomb made him Egypt's most famous pharaoh and inspired a wave of interest in the country's ancient civilization.

Copper Detected in Ancient Egyptian Ink

Courtesy University of Copenhagen

Courtesy University of Copenhagen

Recent test of Egyptian papyrus shows black ink filled with copper. 

According to Cosmos report, this metal-filled ink was used in Egypt from 200 BC to 100 AD. This is 400 years earlier than previously known. 

Thomas Christiansen of the University of Copenhagen and his team of scientists used X-ray microscopy at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. They scanned papyrus from 88 BC and 200 AD. 

They believe the charcoal used to make these inks contained traces of copper left over from the process of separating copper from other ores. Specifically, the copper was found in the form of cuprite, azurite, and malachite minerals. 

They also found out that the ancient Egyptians' blue ink contained scraps of copper most likely from metal workshops near the temples. Their alchemical knowledge was more advanced than they're commonly credited for. 



Archaeologists Find Roman Shipwrecks off Egypt's North Coast


CAIRO (AP) — Egypt says archaeologists have discovered three sunken shipwrecks dating back more than 2,000 years to Roman times off the coast of the city of Alexandria.

Tuesday's statement from Mostafa Waziri, the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the discovery was made in collaboration with the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology.

Waziri says the archeologists also uncovered a head sculpture carved in crystal and three gold coins dating back to Rome's first emperor, Augustus. Parts of large wooden planks and archaeological remains of pottery vessels were also found, which could have been part of the ships' cargo.

The discoveries were made in Alexandria's Abu Qir Bay. Separately from the Roman-era finds, a votive bark of the pharaonic god Osiris was found in the nearby sunken city of Heraklion.