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Saturday, April 3, 2021

Egypt mummies pass through Cairo in ancient rulers' parade - BBC News

For a 2-1/2 hour video aired in conjunction with the parade, go to this youtube page: https://youtu.be/0M9adks0rGU

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-56508475

Egypt mummies pass through Cairo in ancient rulers' parade

By Wael Hussein
BBC News, Cairo

Egyptians have been witnessing a historic procession of their country's ancient rulers through the capital, Cairo.

The lavish, multimillion-dollar spectacle saw 22 mummies - 18 kings and four queens - transported from the peach-coloured, neo-classical Egyptian Museum to their new resting place 5km (three miles) away.

With tight security arrangements befitting their royal blood and status as national treasures, the mummies were relocated to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in what is called The Pharaohs' Golden Parade.

They were transported with great fanfare in chronological order of their reigns - from the 17th Dynasty ruler, Seqenenre Taa II, to Ramses IX, who reigned in the 12th Century BC.

Egypt experienced a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections a year ago, but following a decline in the number of cases and deaths, restrictions on open-air gatherings were later lifted.

The mummy of King Ramses II was among those to be                    transportedimage copyrightReuters
image captionThe mummy of King Ramses II was among those to be transported

One of the main attractions of Saturday's event is King Ramses II, the most famous pharaoh of the New Kingdom, who ruled for 67 years and is remembered for signing the first known peace treaty.

Another is Queen Hatshepsut, or Foremost of Noble Ladies. She became ruler even though the customs of her time were that women did not become pharaohs.

Each mummy was carried on a decorated vehicle fitted with special shock-absorbers and surrounded by a motorcade, including replica horse-drawn war chariots.

While ancient mummification techniques originally preserved the pharaohs, for the move they have been placed in special nitrogen-filled boxes to help protect them against external conditions. Roads along the route have also been repaved to keep the journey smooth.

"The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has done its best to make sure that the mummies have been stabilised, conserved, and are packed in a climate-controlled environment," said Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo.

The mummies will be transported from the Egyptian                    Museum on Cairo's Tahrir Square to their new homeimage copyrightEPA
image captionThe mummies were transported from the Egyptian Museum on Cairo's Tahrir Square to their new home

The mummies were discovered in 1881 and 1898 in two caches in the ruins of Thebes, Egypt's ancient capital - modern day Luxor in Upper Egypt.

"They have already seen a lot of movement in Cairo and before that in Thebes, where they were moved from their own tombs to other sepulchres for safety," Dr Ikram pointed out.

While most of the ancient rulers' remains were brought from Luxor to Cairo via boat on the Nile, a few were transported in the first-class carriage of a train.

They were housed in the iconic Egyptian Museum and visited by tourists from around the world for the past century.

Valley of the Kings

Egypt's authorities are hoping that the new museum, which opens fully this month, will help revitalise tourism - a prime source of foreign currency for the country.

The industry has been battered by political turbulence over the past decade, and more recently by the pandemic.

mummies on theior way across caiuroimage copyrightReuters
image captionSome of Cairo's streets were resurfaced to ensure the mummies had a smooth journey

Saturday's move of the mummies will be streamed online for all enthusiasts of ancient Egypt to watch.

The new exhibits will now be housed in the Royal Hall of Mummies and will go on display to the general public from 18 April.

The hall has been designed so that visitors will experience the illusion of being in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Separately, a new Grand Egyptian Museum which will house the famous Tutankhamun collection is due to open next year, close to the Great Pyramids at Giza.

'Curse of the pharaohs'

While it is being seen as a grand - and even fun - event, Egypt's mummies have historically been associated with superstition and foreboding.

Recently, Egypt has had a string of disasters. Last week alone dozens of people were killed in a train crash in Sohag, Upper Egypt, while at least 18 people died when a building collapsed in Cairo.

The Ramses II obelisk is seen after the                    renovation of Tahrir Square, in Fustat, Cairoimage copyrightReuters
image captionThe Ramses II obelisk in Tahrir Square, dedicated to the most famous pharaoh of the New Kingdom

Then, as preparations were in full swing to transfer the mummies, the Suez Canal was blocked by the MS Ever Given cargo ship for almost a week.

Social media users have questioned whether the myth of "the curse of the pharaohs" might be to blame.

The ethics of displaying ancient Egyptian mummies has long been debated. Many Muslim scholars believe that the dead should be treated with dignity and respect and not be exhibited as curiosities.

In 1980, President Anwar Sadat ordered the Royal Mummy Room at the Egyptian Museum closed, arguing that it desecrated the dead. He wanted the mummies to be reburied instead, though he did not get his wish.

Mummy of King Amenhotep II is transported through                    Cairo, 3 April 2021image copyrightEPA
image captionThe mummies will now rest in the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation


--   Sent from my Linux system.

Hubble Revisits the Veil Nebula | NASA

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2021/hubble-revisits-the-veil-nebula

Veil Nebulae

This image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope revisits the Veil Nebula, which was featured in a previous Hubble image release. In this image, new processing techniques have been applied, bringing out fine details of the nebula's delicate threads and filaments of ionized gas.

To create this colorful image, observations were taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument using five different filters. The new post-processing methods have further enhanced details of emissions from doubly ionized oxygen (seen here in blues), ionized hydrogen, and ionized nitrogen (seen here in reds).

The Veil Nebula lies around 2,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus (the Swan), making it a relatively close neighbor in astronomical terms. Only a small portion of the nebula was captured in this image.

The Veil Nebula is the visible portion of the nearby Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant formed roughly 10,000 years ago by the death of a massive star. That star – which was 20 times the mass of the Sun – lived fast and died young, ending its life in a cataclysmic release of energy. Despite this stellar violence, the shockwaves and debris from the supernova sculpted the Veil Nebula's delicate tracery of ionized gas – creating a scene of surprising astronomical beauty.

The Veil Nebula is also featured in Hubble's Caldwell Catalog, a collection of astronomical objects that have been imaged by Hubble and are visible to amateur astronomers in the night sky.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Z. Levay

Media contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-1940
claire.andreoli@nasa.gov

Last Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Editor: Lynn Jenner

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Friday, April 2, 2021

22 royal mummies, kings and queens who died more than 3,000 years ago, are going on parade in Egypt - CBS News

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mummies-parade-egypt-royal-golden-pharaohs-parade-ancient-kings-and-queens/

22 royal mummies, kings and queens who died more than 3,000 years ago, are going on parade in Egypt

By Ahmed Shawkat

Cairo — This weekend, Egypt is putting on a parade for its royalty. But the guests of honor in this procession have all been dead for more than 3,000 years.

On Saturday, 22 royal mummies will be paraded through the streets of downtown Cairo. As the sun sets, the ancient monarchs will depart the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in a grandiose parade, each of them on their own decorated vehicle surrounded by a festival-like motorcade, complete with music, lights, costumes and horses.

mummies-egypt.jpg
The mummies of Egyptian kings and queens, dating back more than 3,000 years, are seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in an image from video posted online by the Experience Egypt tourism board. Experience Egypt

The "Pharaohs' Golden Parade" will move along the River Nile to Egypt's first Islamic capital, Al-Fustat, in old Cairo, until it reaches the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

The group includes 18 kings and four queens from the 17th to the 20th dynasties of ancient Egypt — approximately 3,500 to 3,100 years ago. Most of the 22 kings and queens were discovered in two archaeological "caches" in Luxor in the late 1800s.

Grave robbers and a family feud

Years after these monarchs died, Egypt had become divided and weak, and grave robbery was rampant. Priests had to hide the royal mummies, moving them to hidden tombs to protect them from grave robbers.

Their efforts remained successful until the first cache in Luxor was discovered in the 19th century when, the story goes, a young man's goat went astray.

"In 1871 a member of the family of Abd al Rasul [who were tomb robbers] was leading goats. One of them ran away, up to the mountain south of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut," archaeologist Zahi Hawass told CBS News. "When the man ran after the goat, he found a shaft. When he entered, he found himself in front of mummies, coffins and gold."

The family kept the secret for 10 years, robbing the tomb, until royal artifacts started to surface for sale around the world. Officials arrested one of the family members and interrogated him for a month. The man said nothing. When he was released, he asked his family for a bigger share as compensation.

"They refused and began to fight. Another member of the family went to the police and told them about the cache," Hawass said.

From unwelcome, to presidential welcome

Ancient Egyptians had a very sophisticated set of religious beliefs, including a detailed explanation for what comes after someone's Earthly life, but they likely never saw this coming.

The mummies were loaded onto boats and transferred down the Nile from the dig site to Cairo. But when the long-dead kings and queens arrived in their country's new capital, they were denied entry. Cairo's customs inspectors of the late 19th century found that the word "mummy" did not appear within any category of goods permitted for entry.

mummy-king-seti-i-egypt.jpg
The mummy of Seti I, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty who died in 1279 BC, is seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, in an image from a promotional video posted online by the government's Experience Egypt tourism board. Experience Egypt

But as Hawass explained, they found a solution: The mummies were labeled "salted fish," and welcomed to Cairo. They were first taken to the Bulaq Museum, but later moved to the Egyptian Museum in 1902. They first went on public display in 1958. 

This time around, the royal mummies will be welcomed to their new home in the capital by their contemporary counterpart — or the closest figure in present day Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

But why move 22 royal mummies anyway, and what's the parade all about?

Why the move?

The once-thriving tourism industry is one of Egypt's primary sources of income, but it has suffered badly since the arrival of an uninvited guest last year. Thanks to COVID-19, the United Nations has described 2020 as the worst year in global tourism history.

Clearly the parade is seen as a way to reinvigorate interest in Egypt as a destination as the global travel industry eyes a rebound. Many Egyptians, including in the government, want this event to look good.

One talk show host went so far as to ask residents along the parade route hide junk on the roofs of their buildings, just for a day, for the sake of Egypt's public image, knowing their will be aerial footage of the royal procession.

The event will also include the unveiling of an obelisk and the unboxing of four sphinxes in the center of Cairo's famous Tahrir Square. The artifacts have been installed and waiting for their debut for several months now.

The entire parade will be live-streamed by Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Controversial attractions

Despite the obvious draw Egypt's ancient history offers its tourism industry, mummies are, after all, deceased human beings, and there has always been a simmering debate over whether they should simply be left buried, or at least reburied, rather than put on display for gawping visitors.  

Digging up graves is forbidden in Islam, and Dr. Ahmad Karima, a professor of Islamic law at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, recently raised the issue again, arguing: "These are our accentors, we shouldn't have them displayed for some dollars and euros."

He said bodies should only be exhumed for scientific research, after which they should be promptly reburied.

mummy-seqenenre-taaii.jpg
The sarcophagus that encased the mummy of pharaoh Sequenere Taa II, who ruled over ancient Egypt during the 17th dynasty until about 1555 BC, is seen in an image from a video posted online by the Experience Egypt tourism board.  Experience Egypt

Former President Anwar Sadat, during a visit to the Egyptian Museum in the 1980s, ordered the closure of the Royal Mummies Hall, and it remained closed for seven years.

Archaeologists who oppose the hiding of mummies insist they aren't tomb robbers, noting that they preserve the ancient remains and protect them from being looted or destroyed — and they need to do their work to learn about the past. DNA tests and CT scans continue to change what we know about how ancient Egyptians lived, and died.

Who were these royals?

Of the 22 royal mummies taking up residence at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, 20 will be put on display and two, Queen Meritamun and Queen T, will be stored.

The 20 going on display, from oldest to youngest, are: Seqenenre TaaII, Ahmose Nefertari, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Seti I, Ramses II, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, Ramses III, Ramses IV, Ramses V, Ramses VI and Ramses IX.

"Every mummy has a story, every mummy is magic," Hawass told CBS News. He will be telling some of those stories at the event on Saturday — a day, he said, "that will be remembered."

EGYPT-ARCHAEOLOGY-HERITAGE-ANTIQUITIES
Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass poses during an event announcing the discovery by the archaeological mission he leads of a new trove of treasures at Egypt's Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo, January 17, 2021. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty

"The new showroom is more like a one-way circle maze. All the walls are black, with spotlights on the mummies," Sayed Abu-El Fadal, a spokesman for the NMEC, told CBS News.  "It is designed like the tombs in the Valley of the Kings."

The new display hall will include x-rays and scans of the mummies, and some of their belongings.

Over more than 3,000 years these kings and queens will have moved from one tomb to another, from one capital to another and from one museum to another. Hopefully, after Saturday they'll finally be allowed to rest in peace.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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