ST. GEORGE — Earth’s ancient relative, the Smith-Tuttle comet, is set to be the headliner for three nights in August, producing a brilliant light show as fragments of the 4-billion-year-old snowy dirtball streak across the skies during one of the most active meteor showers of the year.
The Perseid meteor shower will make its peak three-night appearance from Aug. 11-13, and is known to be a rich, steady meteor shower that sends 60-70 meteors slamming into the Earth’s atmosphere at more than 130,000 mph every hour. This year’s meteor shower event will be make even more spectacular by the “slender waxing crescent moon,” according to EarthSky’s 2018 Meteor Shower Guide.
Meteors are small fragments of cosmic debris entering the earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speed. They are caused by the copious amounts of particles produced each time a comet swings around the sun and eventually spread out along the entire orbit of the comet to form a meteoroid stream.
If the Earth’s orbit intersects with the comet’s orbit, as it does with the Swift-Tuttle Comet, then it passes through that stream, which produces a meteor shower. If that intersection occurs at roughly the same time each year, then it becomes an annual shower, according to the American Meteor Society.
Swift-Tuttle has an eccentric, oblong orbit around the sun that takes 133 years. The comet’s orbit takes it outside the orbit of Pluto when farthest from the sun, and inside the Earth’s orbit when closest to the sun, releasing particles of ice and dust that become part of the Perseid meteor shower.
Perseid showers last for weeks instead of days and have been streaking across the sky since July 17, and while they are heaviest during the three-day period beginning Saturday, they will continue for at least 10 days after.
The fast, bright meteors appear in all parts of the sky, roughly 50 to 75 miles above the earth’s surface and leave continual trains, which is the persistent glow caused by the luminous interplanetary rock and dust left in the wake of the meteoroid, and often remain long after the light trail has dissipated.
These meteors, which can reach temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, start from northerly latitudes during mid-to-late evening and tend to strengthen in number as the night continues, typically producing the greatest number of showers in the hours just before dawn, which is also moonless and makes them easier to see against the black backdrop.
Because meteor shower particles are all traveling in parallel paths at the same velocity, they appear to radiate from a single point in the sky, similar to railroad tracks converging to a single point as they vanish beyond the horizon. The Perseid shower originates from a point in front of the constellation Perseus, which ranks 24 on the list of largest constellations and is visible from August to March in the Northern Hemisphere.
Here are Perseid meteor shower viewing tips:
An open sky is essential as these meteors streak across the sky in many different directions and in front of a number of constellations.
Getting as far away from city lights will provide the best view, and the best time to watch the showers is between midnight and dawn.
Provide at least an hour to sky watch, as it can take the eyes up to 20 minutes to adapt to the darkness of night.
Put away the telescope or binoculars, as using either one reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, and lowers the odds that you’ll see a meteor.
Let your eyes relax and don’t look in any one specific spot. Relaxed eyes will quickly catch any movement in the sky and you’ll be able to spot more meteors.
Be sure to dress appropriately – wear clothing appropriate for cold overnight temperatures.
Bring something comfortable on which to sit or lie. A reclining chair or pad will make it far more comfortable to keep your gaze on the night sky.
Avoid looking at your cell phone or any other light, as both destroy night vision.
To mix things up a bit, the Delta Aquariids meteor shower, which peaked July 27, the same night as the century’s longest lunar eclipse, is still showering icy space dust across the sky and is running simultaneously with the Perseid’s.
June 7, 1967. It is the third day of the Six Day War and after 19 years of exile by the Jordanians, the Old City of Jerusalem has been captured by Israeli forces. Dan Bahat, a soldier stationed in the country’s now reunified capital, asks for two hours of leave from his commanding officer. A secular Jew, Bahat makes his way to the Temple Mount.
“I came to the Western Wall the moment I heard it was liberated,” he told The Times of Israel. He recalled that he reached the wall exactly when former prime minister David Ben-Gurion arrived for the first time.
Called the “Wailing Wall” since the 13th century, it is here at this remnant of the two Jewish Temples’ retaining wall that Jews have historically mourned their destruction: the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians, and the Second Temple, first modestly built some 70 years later, was fully renovated and massively enlarged by Herod circa 20 BCE, then destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
Following the 1967 war, the houses surrounding that portion of the Western Wall were razed, making way for what is now the stone-paved plaza used for prayer and state ceremonies. On the south side of the plaza, the Mughrabi Bridge, the only entrance available for non-Muslims to ascend to today’s Aqsa compound, separates the prayer pavilion from the section of the Western Wall that was set aside for archaeological research and a national park.
A soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade’s reserve reconnaissance company cleans his rifle as his injured comrade reads the newspaper near the Western Wall on June 7, 1967. (Micha Bar-Am/Defense Ministry’s IDF Archive)
Standing in the park, what immediately captures the imagination is the massive stone rubble, lying exactly where it landed when Roman soldiers pried the huge ashlar stones from the Temple Mount high above. Here, more than in any other place in the park, one can resoundingly conceptualize the horror of the fall of the Second Temple and the destruction wrought there.
However, since a High Court case in 2000, the archaeological park is also officially used as a space for egalitarian prayer. And now, after decades of contentious struggle and negotiations between all major Jewish denominations in Israel and abroad, under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, a large permanent prayer platform is in the final planning stages for construction.
“The Western Wall is sacrosanct,” said Bahat, now retired from a career as a prominent archaeologist. “But out of a national monument, it has become a synagogue.”
It is the unrivaled historical value of this site and the antiquities in it that led former Six Day War soldier Bahat to petition the High Court of Justice in March for a stay of construction in the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch area. A hearing is set for December.
From 1963-1990, Bahat was employed by the predecessor to the IAA, eventually becoming the district archeologist of Jerusalem. From the mid-1980s on, he served as the long-time lead archaeologist on the Western Wall Tunnel excavations.
Preparations for the creation of a plaza next to the Western Wall, June 17, 1967. (From the collection of Dan Hadani, National Library of Israel).
Represented by the prestigious Yigal Arnon law firm, Bahat’s March petition is against the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and its head, the Prime Minister’s Office, Culture Minister Miri Regev, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who all have played a role in the planned platform.
The platform’s implementation is a remnant from the much-negotiated, now-frozen 2016 government decision that earmarks the site as a permanent location for egalitarian prayer, would have granted the non-Orthodox movements and feminist prayer group Women of the Wall a seat at the table in its planning, and somewhat equal public status with a new joint entrance to the renovated prayer pavilions.
Archaeologist Prof. Dan Bahat (courtesy)
“Unfortunately,” said Bahat, the Robinson’s Arch site “has become easy prey for those who decided to make a non-Orthodox prayer plaza.”
Bahat told The Times of Israel that because he is no longer employed by the IAA and doesn’t need the agency for an excavation license, he is able to speak out against what he sees as a destructive, desecration of the hard-won Western Wall archaeology — and the IAA’s role in it. According to a deal reached with the PMO over the planned expansion of the permanent platform, the IAA is deeply involved in the construction project. In February, it began preliminary checks in the area intended as a new, much widened entrance to the planned platform.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, said Bahat, is the body “in charge of guarding all the archaeological sites.”
“This is not protection, it is a desecration of the site,” said Bahat. “The IAA should be on my side not to touch the place. But they are the ones who are undertaking the work of destruction,” he said.
The Davidson Archaeological Park, said Bahat, is “the pearl in the crown” of ancient Jerusalem archaeology. “There is nowhere else where you can so clearly see the results of the 70 CE Roman conquest. What you see today is really how everything ended.”
Jewish tradition states the Second Temple was destroyed because of “sinat chinam” — baseless hatred and infighting among the Jewish people. Today, as the Israeli government pushes forward with a construction plan designed to bridge gaps with Diaspora Jewry, archaeologists fear that the evidence that preserves a previous time of destructive Jewish factionalism is set to be erased from history.
Ahead of Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples, The Times of Israel spoke with archaeologists about what exactly is currently being “destroyed” at the Robinson’s Arch prayer area, and, after getting a glimpse of still unfinalized plans for the new expanded permanent platform, what other evidence of Judaism’s historical past may be “desecrated” — or even potentially better preserved.
What archaeology is there exactly in this crown jewel?
In 1968, head of the Hebrew University Prof. Benjamin Mazar began his large-scale excavation alongside hundreds of workers and volunteers. According to Mazar, remains from as early as the Iron Age and as late as the Arab period have been uncovered at the site.
These were heady times for Israeli archaeology. Yigael Yadin called Mazar’s excavations there “the greatest archaeological enterprise Jerusalem has witnessed.” Numerous questions of Jewish identity and heritage that had been left unsolved began to receive answers.
Herbert W. Armstrong and Prof. Benjamin Mazar present the Jerusalem excavations to the Japanese Ambassador. (courtesy)
One riddle, left over from the campaign of American Bible scholar Edward Robinson was the meaning behind an arch he discovered in 1838 while charting Holy Land sites for his landmark book, “Biblical Researches in Palestine.” Then, the arch jutted out of the wall about a meter above street level and was most used as a bench. Robinson saw it as a clear identifier of the spot of the ancient Jewish Temples.
Robinson writes in “Biblical Researches in Palestine,” “The existence of these remains of the ancient bridge, seems to remove all doubt as to the identity of this part of the enclosure of the mosk with that of the ancient temple. How they can have remained for so many ages unseen or unnoticed by any writer or traveller, is a problem, which I would not undertake fully to solve. One cause has probably been the general oblivion, or want of knowledge, that any such bridge ever existed.”
For years, Robinson and other scholars felt the arch, which springs out from the Western Wall, was used to support a bridge. As he writes in a 1980 Biblical Archaeology Review article, Mazar, however, determined it was indeed part of a support system — but for a monumental stairway.
Reconstruction of ancient Jerusalem’s Keshet Robinson, as found in the Tower of David Museum. (CC-BY-SA Водник at ru.wikipedia)
The staircase led to one of the main entrances to the Temple Mount, originating from the well-preserved Herodian road that visitors can still walk on today, and was supported by the 17-meter-high Robinson’s Arch. At the southern end of the Temple Mount built on a man-made plateau was a massive, impressive structure called the Royal Stoa.
Jewish pilgrims of all sorts — possibly even Jesus — would have walked these steps supported by Robinson’s Arch to ascend to the Temple.
Among the other early discoveries there, Mazar found a Hebrew inscription in the Western Wall just under Robinson’s Arch reading, “You shall see and your heart shall rejoice. Their bones shall flourish like grass,” which appears to be a paraphrase of Isaiah 66:14: “When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass.”
Mazar, writes granddaughter Dr. Eilat Mazar, today a leading Israeli archaeologist, believed the inscription to have been written by the few Jews who, in Emperor Julian’s day in 363 CE, were briefly allowed back into the city to rebuild the Temple. Others, she writes, tie the inscription to mass burials about a meter and a half below it, which took place in 900 CE.
A 19th century image of Robinson’s Arch. (public domain)
Standing in the Davidson Archaeological Park near the Western Wall today, visitors are struck by the Herodian road, the shops that sold sacrifices to pilgrims on their way to the Temple Mount, and a 1st century CE cornerstone fallen from the wall above inscribed with, “the trumpeting place.” The stone arguably indicates where priests may have sounded the entrance of the Sabbath and holidays during the days of the Second Temple.
What is currently covered up?
Archaeologist Prof. Ronny Reich uncovered the section of the park that is adjacent to the current egalitarian prayer platform in excavations there from 1994 -1996. Reich told The Times of Israel that while the road and other finds are significant, the in-situ rubble of the destroyed massive wall is of unparalleled importance.
“This is the only place where you can touch, experience, become excited by the very impressive stone collapse from the destruction of the Second Temple,” said Reich. He said it has incomparable educational, emotional and historical value that is unmatched by any other in the country.
A family celebrates a bar mitzva at the small egalitarian prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
When Reich excavated this area of the site, the entire roadway next to the wall was covered by these massive ashlar stones. A portion of these stones, the heaviest of which weighed some 14 tons, were lifted out by a crane, so archaeologists could study the debris from beneath. But a decision was made to merely dig around the section that remains today, and leave a visceral reminder of the wide-spread razing of ancient Jerusalem.
Today, the small 12-meter-wide egalitarian prayer platform in the north corner of the Robinson’s Arch area that is adjacent to the Western Wall covers over a portion of these ancient stones, which are now inaccessible to the public. Visitors on this platform can also see, in a corner adjacent to the wall and the Mughrabi Bridge, a pier that was excavated by Mazar and shows many other deeper courses of the Western Wall. Now it is used as a de facto garbage can.
The second, much larger “temporary” platform erected in 2014 by then-Jerusalem Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett covers much more territory, and therefore more antiquity.
According to Reich, who excavated this area, much of what is covered comes from the Byzantine (Christian Roman) and early Muslim periods, although there is also still some evidence of Second Temple shops similar, but less preserved than what is on display directly under Robinson’s Arch.
A 1st century inscription found in Robinson’s Arch reads, ‘The trumpeting place.’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
In his 1980 aricle, Mazar writes that between the series of arches that supported the staircase were shops of the Lower Market. “We found the remains of these shops as well as some of their contents: stone vessels, weights, pottery and coins,” noting one of Emperor Agrippa I, who ruled from 41–44 CE. “We may assume that the shops served those coming to the Temple, pilgrims in particular.
Is the evidence of destruction being destroyed?
Both Reich and Bahat said that none of the antiquities covered by the prayer platforms have been caused irreparable damage — so far.
At the same time, Bahat called the Ezrat Yisrael platform built by Bennet “ugly,” and that “the dirt underneath is unbelievable.” The construction of the platform is “inserting an artificial element into an archaeological site.”
“It’s as if, suddenly in the middle of Beit Shean, they’ll build a big platform to celebrate [the Moroccan Jewish holiday of] mimuna,” he said, or, at Tel Megiddo “to put up a platform to celebrate Allenby’s victory. Can you imagine such a thing?”
Attorney Amnon Lorch (courtesy)
According to Bahat’s attorney, Amnon Lorch, the former Chairman of the East Jerusalem Development Company, 250,000 visit the archaeological park annually. “Instead of seeing the awesome site that was there until a few years ago, today they see the porch with the umbrellas that looks like an entrance to a swimming pool in the Bahamas. It is a complete desecration of the site.”
For Lorch, the matter is both professional and personal. He worked there as a volunteer in the massive excavations. All the site’s unique archaeological glory will be covered, he said, “because maybe someone will pray there? The fact of the matter is that a few thousand yearly pay there, whereas hundreds of thousands pay tickets into the park. There must be a balance of public interests.”
Lorch’s case targets the IAA, which he claimed was formed as an independent authority to defend the antiquities of the People of Israel. “That’s their job, their mission, their legal obligation,” he said. Instead, “they have bent their head before the politicians at the whim of the prime minister who, after the government froze the decision to build the porch there, gave an order to build it.”
In his case, Lorch references past IAA heads’ statements fending off previously planned construction. Likewise, he claims that the current platforms do not have the required Jerusalem municipality building permits, nor the approval of the recently headline-making ministerial committee on Holy Places, which has yet to sign off on the project.
But more than anything, in speaking with The Times of Israel, Lorch sounded personally betrayed by the government, which is overlooking its heritage and the preservation of it.
“If the Polish would have done a thing like this to Auschwitz, the [Israeli] government and the Jewish people would have gone crazy,” he said. “But here we’re taking the destruction of the Second Temple,” he stopped the sentence there, apparently astounded.
The IAA as ‘protectors’ of Israel’s ancient past
The IAA of yesteryear also used such strong language in fending off the archaeological site from encroaching construction. Today, it takes a much more pragmatic approach.
Attorney Firas Badhe, legal advisor for IAA, spoke with The Times of Israel this week about the Bahat case and evaluated its chances of success as slim. It is not the first time Bahat has petitioned on similar grounds, he said.
A Spanish-speaking teen tour rests on the Robinson’s Arch prayer platform, April 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
There is no finalized construction plan, said Badhe, and there won’t be one until the IAA is satisfied it can preserve and protect the antiquities there. The IAA is further making sure that the archaeology is as accessible as possible to the public — both what is uncovered now, and what may be revealed in the future.
“If something is found in the [building] process, then the planning must accommodate the new finds,” said Badhe.
A glimpse at an architectural simulation of the provisional plans indicate that the new platform will be much higher than the current one, allowing for much more access to the massive stone rubble from the Temple Mount. Likewise, the platform will basically maintain its size on the portion closest to the Western Wall, and gradually fan out over the now temporary prayer section. There, the plans indicate that it will be slightly more narrow, potentially allowing for visual access to the pilgrimage shops’ remains.
The temporary, larger prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
Badhe confirmed that the current provisional plan shows more accessibility, but repeatedly emphasized that there will be no final approval until all professional checks, including consultations with archaeologists and engineers are completed.
“We promise more accessibility and promise that the antiquities will not be harmed… We are standing guard,” he said.
Badhe said that many archaeologists are divided over the platform’s construction due to a misunderstanding of the planned work.
“It is a very sensitive place, we are very carefully working towards a solution that will promise preservation and accessibility — and not according to how the petitioners conceive of what will be harmed,” he said.
This construction is where the new, much wider entrance is planned for the renovations and permanent prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who has vocally stated her opposition to the construction, when learning that the construction will be much higher than the current platform, cautiously said that it appears the planners are taking the archaeologists’ concerns into account. “The important thing is to expose [the rubble]. Even if they take one more meter and raise the whole section — it is very significant,” she said.
Reich was even more enthusiastic. “If it will be higher, we will get an underground space where visitors can see it [the rubble] exactly as it was. See and touch, without having to crouch down,” he said.
As for the covered pilgrimage shops and some ritual baths which may be inaccessible in the new plan, he said, “It’s all a question of proportion. If there are already shops on one side, will whether there’s another shop or two on the other side change the picture?” he asked.
What’s needed in addressing the the evidence of Second Temple Roman destruction of the capital of the Jewish people, according to Reich, is an agreement that allows parties to overcome their ongoing, factionalizing conflicts and live together in peace.
Wryly using a Latin phrase, Reich said, “Really, it’s a matter of modus vivendi.”
Scientists working in Myanmar have uncovered a nearly 100-million-year-old baby snake encased in amber. Dating back to the Late Cretaceous, it’s the oldest known baby snake in the fossil record, and the first snake known to have lived in a forested environment.
Over 2,900 species of snake exist in the world, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. These legless reptiles first emerged during the Cretaceous period, and they wasted little time, slithering to virtually every part of the planet by around 100 million years ago. The discovery of a baby snake fossilized in amber shows that early snakes had spread beyond swamps and sea shores, finding their way into forested environments. What’s more, these ancient snakes bore a startling resemblance to those living today—a classic case of evolution not having to fix something that ain’t broke. These findings were published today in Science Advances.
This remarkable fossil, along with a second fossilized snake specimen, were discovered at the Angbamo site in Myanmar’s Kachin Province. The second fossilized snake, also preserved in amber, only consisted of bits of scales and skin, but these remnants were clearly snake-like in appearance. Together, the fossils are offering fresh insights into the evolution of snakes and their global reach by the time of the Late Cretaceous.
Using uranium-lead dating, a research team led by Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences and Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta dated the fossils to about 99 million years old. A technique called synchrotron x-ray micro–computed tomographyallowed the researchers to get a close look at the tiny specimens inside the amber without having to break them apart.
The second fossil, dubbed DIP-V-15104, contains the discarded skin of a larger individual, featuring both dark and light patterns. This wasn’t enough for the researchers to identify the species.
The baby snake, which was just a hatchling when it died, measured 47.55 mm (1.8 inches) in length, but it’s missing its head (for reasons unknown). The researchers were able to document nearly 100 vertebrae, along with bits of rib and other anatomy. It’s similar to other Cretaceous snakes, yet unique enough to warrant the designation of a new species, Xiaophis myanmarensis, where “Xiao” is the Chinese word for “dawn,” “ophis” meaning “snake” in Greek, and “myanmarensis” for Myanmar. Snakes have been found preserved in amber before, but this is the first time paleontologists have discovered a baby snake fossilized in this way.
Xiaophis myanmarensis is comparable in size and shape to some baby snakes observed today, like the Asian pipe snake. This fossil provides the earliest direct evidence showing that the growth patterns of snakes have remained unchanged for the past 100 million years. These two snakes are also the first Mesozoic snakes known to have lived in a forest environment, “indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought,” write the researchers in the study. Both fossils were found next to remnants of insects and fragments of plant materials associated with forest floors.
It’s not clear how this hatchling got stuck in a drop of tree sap, or how it lost its head, but its misfortune has turned into our scientific gain.
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Archaeologists have reportedly uncovered the ancient entrance gate to the biblical city of Zer in Israel, also known as Bethsaida, which is mentioned in the New Testament as the city where Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish in one His most well-known miracles.
“There are not many gates in this country from this period. Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer,” said Dr. Rami Arav, director of the Bethsaida Project, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The discovery of the gate was made during excavations carried out in the Golan Heights, with the size and wealth of the fortification suggesting that Zer was a big city.
In recent weeks, archaeologists have also found coins, beads, jugs, a house key, along with a shield that belonged to a Roman soldier. One of the coins was dated back to 35 BCE, or not long before the birth of Christ.
Arav has been carrying out excavations in the Bethsaida area for close to 30 years, which have increased the popularity of the region, and led to masses of Christian pilgrims visiting the site.
Avi Lieberman, director of the Jordan Park, where Bethsaida is located, said that the latest discovery can attract even more people.
“The staff at the Jordan Park and the Golan Tourism are happy for the tens of thousands of visitors who visit the park every day. The wonderful park is also an impressive archaeological site. I [am] amazed each time by the arrival of thousands of evangelical visitors to Bethsaida. I am confident that the latest discoveries will bring more visitors to the park from around the world and from Israel,” Lieberman said.
Relics of other faiths have also been discovered in and around Bethsaida. In January, an Israeli team identified a small, highly decorated pottery shard, which is about 2,300 years old, depicting the birth of the Greek goddess Athena.
Although the shard was originally found in 2016, researchers had been unable to determine until then that it depicts Athena springing to life fully formed from the head of her father Zeus.
Another notable discovery came in 2014, when archaeologists found a rare Roman coin issued in 85 CE by Agrippa II bearing the phrase “Judea Capta,” meant to mark the victory over the Jewish rebels and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
The residents of ancient Bethsaida are criticized by Jesus in Matthew 11, when He calls them out, among others, for refusing to believe the Gospel despite witnessing His miracles.
“Woe to you, Bethsaida!” He says. “For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.”
(CAIRO) — New radar scans have provided conclusive evidence that there are no hidden rooms inside King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said Sunday, bringing a disappointing end to years of excitement over the prospect.
Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said an Italian team conducted extensive studies with ground-penetrating radar that showed the tomb did not contain any hidden, man-made blocking walls as was earlier suspected. Francesco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin presented the findings at an international conference in Cairo.
“Our work shows in a conclusive manner that there are no hidden chambers, no corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Porcelli said, “As you know there was a theory that argued the possible existence of these chambers but unfortunately our work is not supporting this theory.”
In 2015, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves proposed, after analysis of high-definition laser scans, that queen Nefertiti’s tomb could be concealed behind wall paintings in the famed boy king’s burial chamber. The discovery ignited massive interest, with officials first rushing to support the theory but then later distancing themselves and ultimately rejecting it.
The ministry says two previous scans by Japanese and American scientists had proved inconclusive, but insists this latest ground-penetrating radar data closes the lid on the tomb having such hidden secrets.
“It is concluded, with a very high degree of confidence, said Dr. Porcelli, the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers or corridors adjacent to Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the GPR data,” it said in its statement.
The ministry has been gradually moving King Tut’s belongings to a new museum outside Cairo near the Giza Pyramids to undergo restoration before they are put on display. The transfer of the priceless belongings has become a particularly sensitive issue; In 2014 the beard attached to the ancient Egyptian monarch’s golden mask was accidentally knocked off and hastily reattached with an epoxy glue compound, sparking uproar among archaeologists.
The fourth International Tutankhamun Conference in Cairo where Porcelli presented the findings, the most extensive radar survey of the site to date, was attended by a wide range of Egyptologists and archaeologists from the world over.
During the conference, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said that the first phase of the new museum, including King Tut’s halls, will be completed by the end of this year but the date for the museum’s “soft opening” has yet to be decided. The museum currently hosts more than 43,200 artifacts of which over 4,500 belong to King Tut alone, and its grand opening is planned for 2022.
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Royal Burial in Ancient Canaan May Shed Light on Biblical City
An undisturbed elite tomb discovered in ancient Armageddon has the promise of unlocking secrets.
7 hours ago
An untouched 3,600-year-old burial chamber in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Megiddo has stunned archaeologists. Not only is there an array of wealth in the tomb, but there is also a huge potential that the finding may provide insight into the royal dynasty that ruled this powerful center before its conquest by Egypt in the early 15th century B.C. The ancient city of Megiddo — located 19 miles south of Haifa in what is today northern Israel — dominated a strategic pass on major international military and trade routes for nearly five millennia. It has been the site of scientific investigation for 115 years. The most recent international expedition, under the direction of Israel Finkelstein and Mario Martin of Tel Aviv University and Matthew Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeology, has been conducting archaeological excavations there since 1994. The most recent finding started as a mystery when archaeologists began to notice cracks in the surface of an excavation area. They ended up finding a burial chamber with the undisturbed remains of three individuals, all wearing jewelry. The rich adornment of the tomb’s inhabitants appears to indicate a complex and highly stratified society, in which wealthy and powerful people were elevated above most of Megiddo’s society. Archaeologists realized that in addition to the three individual burials, other human remains had been interred at an earlier point. Currently, a broad DNA test is being carried out on the individuals unearthed at Megiddo. The results could reveal for the first time whether the “common” inhabitants of the Canaanite city-state were of the same background as the elite.