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MODERN EGYPT

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Bianca
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« Reply #150 on: June 02, 2009, 07:29:14 am »









                                                   President back to schedule






Al Ahram Weekly
June 1, 2009
 
ENDING a brief mourning period after the death of his grandson, President Hosni Mubarak this week resumed his duties. On Sunday he headed a high-level meeting at the presidential headquarters in Heliopolis.

All the president's top aides were present at the one-hour meeting that provided the head of state a tour d'horizon over a wide range of political and economic issues. Also present were the speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

An official statement qualified the meeting as an opportunity to go through issues related to Egyptian- American relations ahead of an expected visit by US President Barack Obama to Egypt. The visit, the statement added, also offered an opportunity for the president to issue directives to Chief of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid who will be flying to the US for an exchange of views with top American officials on issues of mutual concern to Cairo and Washington. The delegation left on Monday and is expected back Thursday.

In press statements made independently hours after the meeting, Abul-Gheit and Rachid detailed the presidential directives. The top Egyptian diplomat said he would deliver a written message from Mubarak to Obama and that the Egyptian delegation would press upon senior US officials the need for direct and intense engagement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Rachid said that Egypt was pursuing closer and wider economic cooperation with the US.

It was not clear whether the delegation will be received by Obama who is visiting Egypt on 4 June to deliver a speech to the Muslim and Arab worlds. If he has time, we will meet him, Abul-Gheit said.

Mubarak was scheduled to visit Washington this week for talks with Obama but the trip was cancelled following the death of his grandson. Previously scheduled visits by European officials were also cancelled, however, the president is expected to resume his normal schedule within a week, sources suggest.

On Tuesday Mubarak expressed his deep appreciation for public sympathy for his grief.
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« Reply #151 on: June 02, 2009, 07:50:48 am »










                                                                Coptic trove



                     Luxor's west bank was the site of a significant find, reports Nevine El-Aref






AlAhram Weekly
Heritage
25 Feb. 2005

In Al-Gurna where several excavation missions are probing for more Ancient Egyptian treasures under the sand, a team from the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology has stumbled on a major Coptic trove buried under the remains of a sixth-century monastery located in front of a Middle Kingdom tomb.

Excavators unearthed two papyri books with Coptic text along with a set of parchments placed between two wooden labels as well as Coptic ostraca, pottery fragments and textiles.

The head of the team, Tomaz Gorecki, said the books were well preserved except for the papyri papers which were exceptionally dry.

The first book has a hard plain cover embellished with Roman text from the inside while the second includes no less than 50 papers coated with a partly deteriorated leather cover bearing geometrical drawings. In the middle, a squared cross 32cm long and 26cm wide is found.

As for the set of parchments, Gorecki said it included 60 papers with a damaged leather cover and an embellished wooden locker.

Immediately after the discovery, restoration was carried out in order to preserve the books which will be the subject of extensive restoration by two Polish experts.

"It is a very important discovery, equal to the Naga Hammadi scrolls" found in 1945 in an Ancient Egyptian cave inhabited by Copts during the Roman era, said Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Hawass said the scrolls were originally found in a large sealed stone jar by a murderer while hiding from the police. But when the renowned writer Taha Hussein was the minister of education, he bought the scrolls in a marketplace and offered them to the Coptic Museum.

Hawass added that the scrolls include 13 religious and philosophic codices translated into Coptic by fourth-century Gnostic Christians and translated into English by dozens of highly reputable experts.

The Naga Hammadi scrolls is a diverse collection of texts that the Gnostics considered to be related to their heretical philosophy. There are 45 separate titles, including a Coptic translation from the Greek of two well-known works: the Gospel of Thomas, attributed to Jesus's brother Judas, and Plato's Republic. The word "gnosis" is defined as "the immediate knowledge of spiritual truth".

Archaeologist Mustafa Waziri said the codices are believed to be a library hidden by monks from a monastery in the area where these writings were banned by the Orthodox Church. The contents of the codices were written in Coptic though the works were mostly translations from Greek. The most famous of these is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Naga Hammadi codices contain the only complete copy. After the discovery it was recognised that fragments of these sayings of Jesus appeared in manuscripts that had been discovered in Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and quotations were recognised in other early Christian sources. The manuscripts themselves are from the third and fourth centuries.

Early examinations and studies carried out in situ revealed that the newly discovered books could include more information about how early Christians performed their rituals.
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« Reply #152 on: June 13, 2009, 07:45:10 pm »









                                Egyptian tells Berlin paper he'll 'prove' Nefertiti was stolen 






Sat, 13 Jun 2009   
Earth Times 
Berlin

- Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant head of Egypt's antiquities authority, says he will offer documentary proof that the fabled bust of Queen Nefertiti does not belong to Germany, a Berlin newspaper was set to report on Sunday. Hawass, whose media savvy has put Egypt's archaeological treasures on front pages round the world, has vocally called in the past for the return of the bust, found in a tomb nearly a century ago and then claimed by a Berlin millionaire who financed the excavation.

The newspaper, Tagesspiegel am Sonntag, quoted him as saying, "I believe we have good arguments for her return."

He said he would produce documents showing the bust's export after its re-discovery in 1912 was illegal.

Hawass, whose personal website shows him in his trademark broad-brimmed hat, told the German paper he knew of 5,000 "important" Egyptian artefacts in foreign collections, but added that only five were of "unique importance to our culture."

One was Nefertiti, a limestone carving with a plaster and paint finish.

Though now one-eyed, she is sometimes dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world.

German officials insist Egypt has never formally applied for the return of the bust, which is exhibited in the Pergamon Museum in the heart of Berlin. The museum says the financial terms of the 1912 dig provided for the finds to be shared between Egypt and the Germans. 
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« Reply #153 on: July 04, 2009, 08:35:41 am »











                                    Restoration pending for hanging church about to fall





By Hazel Heyer,
eTN Staff Writer
| Jul 03, 2009

Since the 1990s, Cairo residents had been hoping and praying for a facelift of an important church and popular spot in the Egyptian capital.

The Hanging Church in Cairo is about to cave in; but restoration talks have been just that - talks, until recently. Good thing, general secretary of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, visited Pope Shenouda III at the papal residence on the occasion of inaugurating the Hanging Church. According to Father Marqus Aziz Khalil, the former pastor of the Hanging Church, he expressed pleasure at hearing the news and praised Hawass’ efforts.

Aziz however said that the restoration work, which should have been done in the church, has not yet been completed, contrary to what the antiquities council claims.

Father Marqus said the number of tasks that have not been done yet include landscape work, repairs on the hall that’s supposed to be rebuilt and that was emptied out two months ago without taking any practical steps to initiate work, the air-conditioning repair of which plans have been changed several times, and the fire alarm system that does not work at all. “This is in addition to the damage to the holy icons’ holder that resulted from errors by the engineers of the Supreme Council for Antiquities. Only partial repairs have been implemented,” said Father Marqus, who also referred to the fresco that was destroyed twice by humidity because proper materials were not used.

Aziz prodded Hawass to call on those responsible and who know the church restoration situation, stating that accomplishments are better than announcements and media attention the SCA gains from this saga.

Looking back, the initial restoration stage of the Hanging Church ended in 1986; the second stage was supposed to have begun immediately--the more important stage since it deals with the problem of underground water. Water has flooded the Babylon fortress, which supports the church. The columns that hold the church also needed reinforcement. The project stopped for a very long time and criticism started being heard from both the management of the church and others. The studies ended and the financing stopped because of the diminishing income of the higher council for antiquities due to slowed down tourism at the time.

But the surprise came when President Mubarak donated 100 Egyptian million pounds from the state’s budget to the national restoration projects, said Al Sayed Al Najjar of Al Akhbar. Foremost among these projects was the restoration of the Hanging Church estimated to cost 24 million Egyptian pounds. “The restoration process is indeed very complex because it is a comprehensive project that deals with underground water; the most pressing problem facing Islamic and Coptic antiquities since 120 years. The first stage of the project includes reducing the level of the water in the fortress. Following that will be the re-enhancement of the foundations and dealing with the antiquities themselves,” Al Najjar said.

Deep wells will have to be dug in the area around the fortress to trap any excess water. Two additional wells will be dug in front of the fortress and in front of the newly revealed door to the Mosque of Amr. The water that is gathered in the wells will then be siphoned out via pipes to the main sewage system, said Al Najjar.

The fortress remains open to visitors and can be entered from the door to the mosque. The walls and the ceiling of the fortress will be restored as well as the artwork throughout the fortress. The Coptic museum’s old wing, which has been gradually damaged throughout the past years, because of the changes in the ground, should have been restored. The new security system in the museum should have been fixed as well. But so far, since the 90s and 24 million pounds later, little has been done. Go figure.

The Al Moallaka (or Hanging Church in Old Cairo) is truly on the brink of destruction. Egyptians summoned organizations for support to help save the ancient structure. The Al-Wafd ran a request by Hanging Church archpriest Marcos Aziz Khalil asking government to come to their aid. Priests are concerned this is not the first time the ground in front of the Hanging Church has caved in. Government officials and architectural engineers have visited the Hanging Church after the initial collapse and they wrote their report on what happened. Nevertheless, no action has been taken to permanently solve the problem and save the Hanging Church.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 08:43:14 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #154 on: July 04, 2009, 08:44:59 am »









Some officials in charge of antiquities claimed the renovation of the Hanging Church has no relationship to the depreciation of the ground in front of it. According to Azza Abdel Aziz, the building of the Hanging Church is sort of an architectural miracle because it is built over the Roman fortress Babylon with an ‘empty space’ beneath the church or basically standing on hollow foundations. Ground water has leaked through to the church. “The church was weakened by the 1992 earthquake, which forced the ministry of culture to design a renovation project. A committee has been look into the matter. Despite the team being informed about this alarming situation, little or no effort has been done to eliminate the threat of collapse.

Years back, the Tourism Development Fund granted Egyptian Pounds 4.994 M (US $ 1 = EGP 5.716) to the Supreme Council of Antiquities to help finance the restoration project. However Coptic officials did not take any steps to kick-start the project to rescue the dying landmark. Even after resident archpriest Father Marqus Aziz Khalil published the SCA resolution 2129 of July 2006, calling for immediate restoration be done on the Hanging Church, practically nothing has been done to conserve the crumbling site. The Al-Wafd ran a request by Fr. Khalil asking government to come to their aid.

Dr. Sumaya Mohamed, deputy of the faculty of tourism and hotels of Helwan University, and Dr. Hassan Abdullah, chief inspector at the center of antiquities, studied both proposed that the area be walled in with a gate built around it; and the alleys and streets suitably restored. However alluding to the danger, which threatens Old Cairo because of heavy traffic in the crowded city, Abdullah said the laws protecting antiquities cannot preserve the area. The by-laws only refer to antiquities and monuments on a one-on-one basis, not on the basis of entire towns or districts. Abdullah said, “The land in front of the Hanging Church had already caved in. This was mainly due to the conglomeration of all the main infrastructure activities. The area has always been much lower than the present road level and has thus been subject to several paving measures.”



Al Moallaka
Cairo
Hanging Church in Old Cairo
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« Reply #155 on: July 10, 2009, 08:01:45 pm »










                          Egypt - where there are Archaeological Discoveries Every week!






Archaeological discovery in Saqqara



Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, announced that Egyptian archaeologists, performing routine conservation work at the southern side of Saqqara’s step pyramid (2687-2668 BC), have stumbled
upon what is believed to be a deep hole full of the remains of animals and birds.

The mission has also found that the hole’s floor is covered with a layer of plaster.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has stated that the mission unearthed a large quantity of golden fragments during their restoration work at the southern tomb of Djoser’s pyramid. These may have been used by the ancient Egyptians of the Late Period to decorate wooden sarcophagi or to cover cartonnage.

Thirty granite blocks were also discovered, each weighing five tons. These blocks, Dr. Hawass explained, belonged to the granite sarcophagus that once housed Djoser’s wooden sarcophagus - the final resting place of the king’s mummy.

While cleaning the internal corridors of the pyramid, the mission has also found limestone blocks bearing the names of King Djoser’s daughters, as well as wooden instruments, remains of wooden statues, bone fragments, the remains of a mummy, and different sizes of clay vessels.
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« Reply #156 on: July 10, 2009, 08:03:46 pm »











                                         Islamic Cairo restoration work complete






The Ministry of Culture is set to hold soon a special ceremony to celebrate the end of the restoration work in el-Moez Ledinullah el-Fatimi Street, which has been turned into an open museum for Islamic antiquities at a cost of about LE35 million.

This major project has helped restore the magnificent architecture in this famous street in Islamic Cairo.
Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni explained that the purpose of this project, paid for by the State, is part of a bigger plan to develop Islamic Cairo and save 517 unique Islamic monuments battered by the earthquake that hit Cairo in October 1992.

The project in el-Moez Ledinullah el-Fatimi Street involved overhauling 34 ancient buildings and transforming it into an open museum for I According to Minister Hosni, the Government had earmarked LE850 million for the entire project to restore Islamic Cairo, a task assigned to the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with other ministries and authorities. “Because of el-Moez Ledinullah el-Fatimi Street’s historical value, it has been given much attention.

It is now an open museum for the pedestrians only, and all the workshops in the street, which clashed with its historic nature, have gone,” Hosni added. He said that lorries were banned from the street between 9am and 12am, while electronic gates had been installed in all the entrances to and exits from the street to control the traffic flow.
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« Reply #157 on: July 10, 2009, 08:05:32 pm »










                    Ancient military town dating back to 26th Dynasty discovered in Ismailiya





Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said an archeological mission discovered the remnants of an ancient military town in the governorate of Ismailiya.

The discovered military town dates back to the 26th Dynasty (664-625 BC).

It was found in Tel Defna between Al-Manzala Lake and the Suez Canal.

The area had been chosen by king Rameses II to avoid attacks from the eastern borders.

In addition, the area was used as crossing point by trade convoys coming from east .

The discovered military city belongs to king Ibsemalik.
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« Reply #158 on: July 10, 2009, 08:08:59 pm »


             









                                      A Beautiful Mosaic in the New Library of Alexandria






ArchaeologyNews
July 10, 2009

This fragment of a mosaic floor, showing a dog alongside an overturned bronze jug, was found during
the construction of the New Library of Alexandria.

It is now part of the library’s museum.

The mosaic is extremely detailed; the dog’s red collar can clearly be seen and the artist has carefully modelled the reflection of light on the bronze jug. It likely dates to the Second Century BC.



http://www.archaeologynews.org/link.asp?ID=466572&Title=Egypt - where there are Archaeological Discoveries Every week!
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« Reply #159 on: July 16, 2009, 07:12:45 pm »



Egypt is trying to persuade people to live in the desert










                                                  Are the deserts getting greener? 


By Ayisha Yahya
BBC, World Service 
JULY 16, 2009

It has been assumed that global warming would cause an expansion of the world's deserts, but now some scientists are predicting a contrary scenario in which water and life slowly reclaim these arid places.

They think vast, dry regions like the Sahara might soon begin shrinking.

The evidence is limited and definitive conclusions are impossible to reach but recent satellite pictures of North Africa seem to show areas of the Sahara in retreat.

It could be that an increase in rainfall has caused this effect.

Farouk el-Baz, director of the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, believes the Sahara is experiencing a shift from dryer to wetter conditions.


 
"It's not greening yet. But the desert expands and shrinks in relation to the amount of energy that is received by the Earth from the Sun, and this over many thousands of years," Mr el-Baz told the BBC World Service.

"The heating of the Earth would result in more evaporation of the oceans, in turn resulting in more rainfall."

But it might be hard to reconcile the view from satellites with the view from the ground.

While experts debate how global warming will affect the poorest continent, people are reacting in their own ways.

Droughts over the preceding decades have had the effect of driving nomadic people and rural farmers into the towns and cities. Such movement of people suggests weather patterns are becoming dryer and harsher.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently that rising global temperatures could cut West African agricultural production by up to 50% by the year 2020.

But satellite images from the last 15 years do seem to show a recovery of vegetation in the Southern Sahara, although the Sahel Belt, the semi-arid tropical savannah to the south of the desert, remains fragile.

The fragility of the Sahel may have been exacerbated by the cutting of trees, poor land management and subsequent erosion of soil.
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« Reply #160 on: July 16, 2009, 07:21:10 pm »












Namibia




The broader picture is reinforced by studies carried out in the Namib Desert in Namibia.

"For the last few years there has been higher than average rainfall"

Mary Seely
Gobabeb research centre



This is a region with an average rainfall of just 12 millimetres per year - what scientists call "hyper-arid". Scientists have been measuring rainfall here for the last 60 years.

Last year the local research centre, called Gobabeb, measured 80mm of rain.

In the last decade they have seen the local river, a dry bed for most of the year, experience record-high floods. All this has coincided with record-high temperatures.

"Whether this is due to global change or is a trend anyway, it's hard to distil actually out of the [data] but certainly we've had record highs of temperature," said Joh Henschel, director of Gobabeb.

"Three years ago we had the hottest day on record, 47 degrees Celsius."

The mean annual evaporation is several hundred times higher than the actual rainfall. This is an intense environment."
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« Reply #161 on: July 16, 2009, 07:23:32 pm »










Fluctuation



His colleague Mary Seely agrees.

"Deserts and arid areas always have extremely varied rainfall," she said.

"You would have to look at a record of several hundred years to maybe say that things are getting greener or dryer. For the last few years there has been higher than average rainfall."

Life can be extremely harsh in the Namib desert.
 
"That said, there is even greater variability in the rainfall and the weather patterns than there has been in the past."

Though positioned on the Atlantic coast, the rain that falls on the Namib desert actually comes from the Indian Ocean, having travelled across Africa.

It is therefore hard to explain an increase in rainfall without accepting that higher temperatures globally are causing shifts in established patterns.

The thing these scientists are most keen to work out is what is man-made change and what is natural fluctuation.

Since 1998 the centre has observed a steady but unmistakable trend of rising levels of C02.

They are sure this increase has not been caused locally, since Gobabeb is in a pristine, isolated part of the world with no local sources of pollution.

This is a change that comes about on a global level. 
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« Reply #162 on: July 16, 2009, 07:29:18 pm »










Manufacturing green



Meanwhile, elsewhere on the continent, things are moving at a faster pace.

Global warming may be greening the desert in small, barely measurable ways but, in parts of Egypt, the greening is being advanced in an artificial way, and on an industrial scale.

Egypt has an expanding population and water is becoming an ever more a precious resource.

Waiting to find out if the deserts are greening is not a realistic option.

Remote sensing, radar imagining from space, began in 1981 and showed scientists what was going on under the Saharan sand.

The aquifer, a collection of reservoirs trapped underground between layers of permeable rock, was studied and mapped for the first time.

Tapping into this supply has meant deserts areas can, with skill and judgement, be transformed into farmable land.

Thank to the work of people like Mr el-Baz, the greening of the desert is happening in Egypt in a controlled way.

Out of the newly irrigated desert we now see the commercial growing of oranges, limes and mangoes.

Further, the Egyptian government is actually sponsoring people to settle in the desert to farm, using the water supply they can now tap into and pump out from under the sand.

The programme is part of an ambitious and controversial plan to reclaim 3.4 million acres of desert.

The trend in other parts of the continent may be a migration of people into the cities and away from arid and semi-arid places, but in Egypt, where the desert is undeniably getting greener, the reverse is true.
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« Reply #163 on: December 17, 2009, 09:08:48 pm »

EGYPT WANTS A GREEN SAHARA

Cairo - It looks like a mirage but the lush fields of cauliflower, apricot trees and melon growing among a vast stretch of sand north of Cairo's pyramids is all too real - proof of Egypt's determination to turn its deserts green.

While climate change and land over-use help many deserts across the world advance, Egypt is slowly greening the sand that covers almost all of its territory as it seeks to create more space for its growing population.

Tarek el-Kowmey, 45, points proudly to the banana trees he grows on what was once Sahara sands near the Desert Development Centre, north of Cairo, where scientists experiment with high-tech techniques to make Egypt's desert bloom.

"All of this used to be just sand," he said. "Now we can grow anything."

With only five percent of the country habitable, almost all of Egypt's 74 million people live along the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea. Already crowded living conditions - Cairo is one of the most densely populated cities on earth - will likely get worse as Egypt's population is expected to double by 2050.

So the government is keen to encourage people to move to the desert by pressing ahead with an estimated $70-billion plan to reclaim 3,4 million acres of desert over the next 10 years. Among the incentives are cheap desert land to college graduates.

But to make these areas habitable and capable of cultivation, the government will need to tap into scarce water resources of the Nile River as rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt.

The plan has raised controversy among some conservationists who say turning the desert green is neither practical nor sustainable and might ultimately backfire.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&set_id=1&art_id=nw20071008120155783C548054

continued
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« Reply #164 on: December 17, 2009, 09:19:16 pm »

...continued

Anders Jagerskog, director of the Stockholm International Water Institute in Sweden, questions the wisdom of using precious water resources to grow in desert areas unsuited to cultivation and where water will evaporate quickly under the scorching sun.

"A desert is not the best place to grow food," he said. "From a political perspective, it makes sense in terms of giving more people jobs even though it is not very rational from a water perspective," he added.

The scope of the reclamations could also add to regional tension over Nile water sharing arrangements as in order to green its desert Egypt might need to take more than its share of Nile water determined by international treaties.

Egypt's project to reclaim deserts in the south, called Toshka, would expand Egypt's farmland by about 40 percent by 2017, using about five billion cubic metres of water a year.

That worries neighbours to the south who are already unhappy about Nile water sharing arrangements. Under a 1959 treaty between Egypt and Sudan, Egypt won rights to 55,5 billion cubic metres per year, more than half of the Nile's total flow.

Ethiopia, where the Blue Nile begins, receives no formal allocation of Nile water, but it is heavily dependent on the water for its own agricultural development in this often famine ravaged country.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&set_id=1&art_id=nw20071008120155783C548054

...continued
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 09:22:13 pm by Qoais » Report Spam   Logged

An open-minded view of the past allows for an unprejudiced glimpse into the future.

Logic rules.

"Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong."
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