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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Newly deciphered papyrus describes 'miracle' performed by 5-year-old Jesus | Live Science

Newly deciphered papyrus describes 'miracle' performed by 5-year-old Jesus

This papyrus fragment from the fourth or fifth century is thought to be a part of the "Infancy Gospel of Thomas." (Image credit: Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg (Public Domain Mark 1.0))

Scholars have deciphered and published a papyrus fragment containing part of the "Infancy Gospel of Thomas," which tells stories from Jesus' childhood. 

Written in Greek, the papyrus fragment dates to the fourth or fifth century, making it the earliest copy of this gospel known to exist, scholars wrote in a paper recently published in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. Other copies of the gospel exist, but they date to later times. Churches did not include this gospel in the Bible. 

It "is the earliest preserved manuscript of the text in any language," Lajos Berkes, a lecturer at the Institute for Christianity and Antiquity at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and Gabriel Nocchi Macedo, a papyrology professor at the University of Liège in Belgium, wrote in the study. Scholars generally believe that the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was originally composed in the second century. Part of the reason is because some of the stories told in the gospel sound similar to stories that second-century Christian writers wrote about. 

Childhood miracle

The papyrus fragment tells of a miracle that Jesus performed when he was a child. In the story told in the fragment, "Jesus plays at the ford of a rushing stream and moulds twelve sparrows from the soft clay he finds in the mud. When his father Joseph rebukes him and asks why he is doing such things on the holy Sabbath, the five-year-old Jesus claps his hands and brings the clay figures to life," according to a statement from Humboldt University of Berlin. Scholars are already aware of this story from later copies of the gospel. 

While this fragment mentions only this particular miracle, later copies of the gospel tell of many other miraculous acts that Jesus performed as a child. These include bringing a child named Zeno back to life and instantly healing his father Joseph after he was bitten by a poisonous snake. 

Uncertain provenance

The origin of the fragment is uncertain. We "know close to nothing about the provenance of the papyrus, its history and ownership," Nocchi Macedo told Live Science in an email. "All we know for sure is that it originated in Egypt. It might have arrived in Hamburg either when the core of the papyrological collection was acquired — between 1906 and 1939 — or in 1990 when a box of unconserved papyri was transferred [to Hamburg] from Berlin." In the study, the scholars said they are confident that the fragment was in Germany prior to World War II. 

One reason the papyrus wasn't investigated earlier is that the handwriting is messy, and it looks more like a private letter or shopping list than a gospel, the researchers said in the statement. The scholars think it may have been a writing exercise, possibly done by someone in a school or a monastery. 

'Exciting' find

Many scholars agree that the fragment is an ancient manuscript and not a modern-day forgery. 

"It's exciting that there's a new, early manuscript of this text," Simon Gathercole, a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Cambridge, told Live Science in an email. "It's authentic in the sense that this really is an ancient manuscript. It's not authentic in the sense that it tells us what Jesus really did as a child," Gathercole said. 

Tony Burke, a professor of early Christianity at York University in Toronto, noted that the finding doesn't provide new information. 

"I think it's great to have more witnesses to the text but it doesn't tell us anything new," Burke told Live Science in an email. "We always thought it was composed in the second century, so a 4th/5th century copy does not change the consensus view on the text." 

Christopher Frilingos, a religious studies professor at Michigan State University, told Live Science that the discovery is "highly significant, both in terms of the date of the fragment as well as the language, Greek."

In an email, he noted that "other early Christian writers from the second century allude to childhood stories about Jesus; this manuscript would be the earliest witness to the text of such stories." Frilingos also noted that the provenance of the text should be examined in greater detail, if possible.


Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Live Science who writes about archaeology and humans' past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), among others. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University. 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Missouri S&T – News and Events – New Egyptian exploration book covers adventure, discovery and intrigue

New Egyptian exploration book covers adventure, discovery and intrigue

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On June 17, 2024

A new historical non-fiction book reveals the never-before-told story of women Egyptologists who paved the way for exploration in Egypt and laid the foundation for modern Egyptology. The upcoming release of Women in the Valley of the Kings: The Untold Story of Women Egyptologists in the Gilded Age covers the women working and exploring before Howard Carter had discovered the tomb of King Tut.

Women in the Valley of the Kings, written by Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, is scheduled for release on Tuesday, July 16, and is published by St. Martin's Press. Sheppard is a professor of history and political science at Missouri S&T.

In the book, she brings untold stories of exploration into the public eye. She begins by covering some of the earliest European women who ventured to Egypt as travelers: Amelia Edwards, Jenny Lane and Marianne Brocklehurst. Their travelogues, diaries and maps chronicled their travels and give insights into their lives.

"I love getting to explore the lives these women lived," Sheppard says. "They were doing so much work, right out there in the open, and they were so important to everything in Egyptology. Their male colleagues promised them they would be remembered … and then they weren't."

It also covers Maggie Benson, the first woman granted permission to excavate in Egypt, and her meeting with Nettie Gourlay. Sheppard says that together, the two battled issues of oppression and exclusion and, ultimately, are credited with excavating the Temple of Mut.

"My favorite part of writing this book is getting to tell people about the lives these women lived," says Sheppard. "They were talented, hard-working, and intelligent, and they were the backbone Egyptology depended on."

Sheppard says that as each woman scored a success in the desert, she set up the women who came later for their own successes.

"For example, J.D. Rockefeller – the American business magnate – wouldn't fund a project for the Egypt Exploration Society unless they could guarantee that Amice Calverley would lead it," says Sheppard. "This was in the late 1920s, and he gave the equivalent of millions of dollars. He had several men to choose from but chose a very talented woman. That is really saying something about Calverley's work."

Sheppard hopes Women in the Valley of the Kings can help upend the narrative of only men experiencing adventure, discovery and intrigue in Egyptian exploration, and show how a group of women charted unknown territory and changed the field. 

"Men have, historically, been the ones to at least lay claim to the fact that they did those things – but so did women, actually," says Sheppard. "We need to understand that women have always been key to the sciences — in this instance, Egyptology. That way, when folks say 'well, women really haven't ever been interested in or present in those fields …' we can argue back that that simply isn't true. Women belong in all the spaces men occupy."

About Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation's top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Oldest Egyptian copy of the Bible sold for £3M in London auction - Shia Waves

Oldest Egyptian copy of the Bible sold for £3M in London auction

Christie's, a British auction house, on Tuesday put for auction a collection of Christian liturgical texts written in Coptic, known as "one of the oldest existing copies of the Bible", fetching £3.06 million ($3.89 million).

The Egyptian manuscript, "Crosby-Schøyen Codex," dates back to the dawn of Christianity and is considered one of the oldest books currently in existence. It is one of the earliest Christian liturgical manuscripts.

The "Crosby-Schøyen Codex" is written in Coptic on papyrus and dates approximately from 250 to 350 AD. It was written in one of the oldest Christian monasteries. The book, which comprises 104 pages (52 leaves), was copied by a single scribe over 40 years in a monastery in Upper Egypt and was kept behind a glass panel. The manuscript includes the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah.

The manuscript was discovered in Egypt in the 1950s and was acquired by the University of Mississippi, where it was kept until 1981. It was obtained by Norwegian manuscript collector Martin Schøyen in 1988, who is now auctioning it along with other notable items from his private collection, one of the largest private manuscript collections in the world.

However, the amount for which the manuscript was sold is far from the record figures reached by some other ancient manuscripts, such as the "Codex Sassoon," the oldest Hebrew Bible, which sold last year for over $38 million at a Sotheby's auction in New York.

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"Pharaoh" at the NGV is the greatest exhibition of ancient Egyptian art ever seen in Australia

There have been many exhibitions of ancient Egyptian art held in Australia. Pharaoh, at the National Gallery of Victoria, is outstanding for its scope, scale and presentation.

It is the greatest exhibition of ancient Egyptian art we have ever seen in Australia.

The exhibition comes from the British Museum, holder of the largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Over 500 items have been selected, including monumental sculptures, tomb and temple architecture, coffins, papyri, funerary objects and an extensive display of jewellery.

Numerically, this is the largest (and heaviest) touring exhibition ever mounted by the British Museum and it is the largest exhibition of ancient Egyptian art ever shown in Australia. The effective dramatic display, designed by Peter King who treats the whole space as a cycle from dawn to dusk, occupies all of the major downstairs exhibition spaces at NGV International.

The functionality of art

For a civilisation that left such a huge artistic heritage, it is sobering to remember the ancient Egyptian language had no word for "art".

Art was something functional that gave permanence to the objects of this world, so they could continue to serve their owners in the next life. Much of the surviving ancient Egyptian art is tomb art, designed to withstand the test of time and to preserve in an idealised form the beauty of balance, order and harmony, while celebrating the absolute power of the pharaoh.

A scarab
Ornament depicting the throne name of King Senusret II Egypt, possibly Thebes 12th Dynasty, reign of Senusret II, about 1880–1874 BCE. Electrum, lapis lazuli, cornelian, feldspar. British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum

What is it about ancient Egyptian art that holds us spellbound? In part, it is the sense of sublime beauty, its permanence, with forms seemingly unchanging over millennia, its antiquity and its state of preservation. More than anything else it is the fact that it is permeated by a sense of magic, somehow meant to overcome the forces of death.

When a person died, they were mummified and engaged in a ritual involving an interaction with the "ka" (life force) and the "ba" (human essence). They were surrounded by what we could think of as art objects that involved magic spells, magic amulets and protective deities.

A sandstone pharaoh.
Statue of Pharaoh Sety II wearing emblems marking his royal status. Egypt, Thebes, Karnak, temple of Mut 19th Dynasty, reign of Sety II, about 1200– 1194 BCE. Sandstone. British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum

What struck me about this exhibition was this sense of spirituality – the mystical otherness. We are presented with a variety of beautiful objects across seven thematic categories. Each section, in a way, comments on the role of the pharaoh in Egyptian life.

The elaborate and the intimate

In an exhibition of this nature, there are a number of memorable objects: the granodiorite Head of a colossal statue, probably King Amenemhat III; the life-size sandstone seated Statue of Pharaoh Sety II wearing emblems marking his royal status; the monumental red granite Statue of a lion erected by Pharaoh Amenhotep III, reinscribed by Pharaoh Tutankhamun; the limestone Statue of future Pharaoh Horemheb and his wife; the huge painted limestone Relief showing King Mentuhotep II wearing the red crown; and the imposing monumental limestone sculpture of the Statue of Ramses II as a high-priest.

A red lion
Statue of a lion. Originally Sudan, Soleb; later Sudan, Gebel Barkal 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, about 1390–1352 BCE. Red granite. British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum

All of these are huge works with a dominating presence, a marked frontality and a sense of permanence.

What intrigued me were some of the more intimate, immensely elaborate jewellery-like pieces that served as seals, rings, plaques, amulets, pendants, beads and earrings.

These include: the ornament of a winged Scarab holding a sun-disc, depicting the throne name of King Senusret II with its pieces of lapis lazuli; the faience Throwstick of Pharaoh Akhenaten – an ancient Egyptian boomerang; Girdle with amulets, beads and pendants made of electrum, silver, lapis lazuli, feldspar, amethyst, cornelian, glass; and the Ornament with a bull's head on a gold mount decorated with uraei and lotus flowers made of gold with the bull's head carved into a piece of lapis lazuli.

A blue throwing stick.
Throwstick of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Egypt, Amarna, Royal Tomb 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep IV/ Akhenaten, about 1352–1336 BCE faience. British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum

While one may be seduced by the ornamental design, the exquisite craftsmanship and precious materials, there is also something ethereal about these objects of beauty.

They were intended to ward off evil spirits and beg for their owner's smooth transition into eternal life, where the person could experience life in their present form but free of pain, illness or hardship.

3,000 years of art

The Book of the Dead (more accurately translated as the "Book of Coming Forth by Day") was a collection of magic spells intended to assist a deceased person's journey through the underworld. The texts were prepared for a specific person and speak of the needs of a particular individual.

Ancient scroll.
Sheet from the Abbott Papyrus. Egypt, Thebes late 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramses IX, about 1110 BCE. Papyrus. British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum

Since I was a child, I loved reading this book as it was the voice of an ancient Egyptian speaking directly to me.

One passage reads:

There is no sin in my body. I have not spoken that which is not true knowingly, nor have I done anything with a false heart. Grant you that I may be like to those favoured ones who are in your following, and that I may be an Osiris greatly favoured of the beautiful god.

This beautiful and significant exhibition traces the art of ancient Egypt for 3,000 years from the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and the beginnings of the Old Kingdom with the development of hieroglyphs, in about 3000 BCE, through to the Roman conquest.

A solemn divine majesty runs throughout this exhibition as it celebrates the eternal and magical power of art.

Pharaoh is at the National Gallery of Victoria until October 6.

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Archaeologist accuses Zahi Hawass of violating excavation laws


Archaeologist accuses Zahi Hawass of violating excavation laws

The Assistant Professor and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Archeology and Cultural Heritage at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Monica Hanna has filed a report to the Attorney General accusing famed Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass of receiving grants from external parties to illegally finance excavations.

During a phone call to al-Hadath al-Youm TV channel, Hanna said that archaeological work in Egypt is regulated by the Antiquities Protection Law, whose executive regulations stipulate that no private party should carry out excavations.

Archaeological excavations are entrusted to the competent authorities and universities, she said, noting that according to the law the Zahi Hawass Center at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is not permitted to carry out any excavation work.

The report alleges that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is being used to receive external grants from unknown sources to finance Hawass’ excavations in the Saqqara region and in Luxor under the cover of the Zahi Hawass Center.

It says that the center is not subject to the financial and accounting audit by the library or any external party, which comes in violation of the library’s regulations and the Antiquities Protection Law, which stipulates that the identity of the sources of funds used in archaeological missions must be disclosed.

Hawass responds back

Hawass responded to these accusations in statements reported by the Cairo 24 news website, explaining that the center was established by the Former Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Moustafa Elfeki.

He added: “All international laws stipulate that any center or any institution gives support to another institution, and it cannot be given to any government agency, as the money comes in the name of Zahi Hawass personally.”

Hawass stated that there is an official in Luxor, and another in Saqqara, and that the amount is disbursed with receipts, adding: “Although any mission director has a salary, I refused to take a salary from the excavations… We presented all available documents that prove that this report is completely false.”

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

About - Ancient/Now

Welcome to Ancient/Now

Authentic, authoritative, anti-patriarchal content about the ancient world for the ancient-history-curious

We began Ancient/Now with the idea of creating a reading companion to our podcast, Afterlives of Ancient Egypt, where we could share and continue the conversations we have on a myriad of contemporary topics from entertainment to politics and society and bring our—direct! anti-patriarchal!—ancient historical perspective to current history and archaeology related news. As human systems are increasingly perceived as overtly threatening and obviously unfair, we must look to the sources of those systems. Too long have we basked in our modern exceptionalism, as if we had pandemics and hunger beat. But our systems are a direct outgrowth of battle-weary and anxiety-ridden ancient humans. What is it like to have a life expectancy of under 50 years? What does it feel like to lose half your children before the age of 5? We suddenly need to know these things. Why? Because we feel we might be headed back to that place. And because for thousands of years, humans have tried to build walls against such vulnerabilities, only to create other unexpected problems. Many are recognizing that the past is very much alive now, that we are just people living in millennia-old, patriarchal systems. History isn't repeating itself; history is now.

Meet our writers, Kara, Jordan, and Amber.

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Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA specializing in craft production, coffin studies, economies in the ancient world, and systems of power. The views expressed here are my own.
Director for a production company of expert ancient history consultants with an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (UCLA). Previously worked in museum administration and education at LACMA, the Getty Villa, and Art Muse Los Angeles.
PhD candidate of Egyptology @UCLA, crazy cat lady and lover of good food and travel

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Monday, June 10, 2024

One of the oldest books in the world, a copy of the Egyptian Bible, which is considered to have revo.. - MK

KIM Jekwan
Input : 
2024-06-10 10:59:10
Updated : 
2024-06-10 13:53:43
one of the oldest books in the world Egypt Bible manuscript auctioned off, eye to eye Early Christian literature is recorded and meaningful. be buried for 1500 years after being discovered Book collector's collection, market.
Crosby - Schoen Codex. [Screenshot of Christy's auction website]

One of the oldest books in the world, a copy of the Egyptian Bible, which is considered to have revolutionized Christian research, is up for auction.

The British daily Telegraph reported on the 9th (local time) that Crosby-Sch ø, a Christian liturgical book known to have been written around the 3rd and 4th centuries, will be auctioned at Christie's in London on the 11th.

The estimated auction price is 2 million to 3 million pounds (about 2.51 billion won to 5.27 billion won).

A 104-page copy of the Bible, written in Coptic on Papyrus by an Egyptian monk, contains some of Bedro and Jonah. The book was discovered after being buried for about 1500 years for unknown reasons.

"The Crosby-Shoen Codex is one of the three major discoveries of the 20th century that revolutionized Christian research," said Eugenio Donadoni, Christie's senior expert in books and manuscripts.

This is because it is the data of the time when Christianity was first spread around the Mediterranean, and you can see early Christians who were still devoted to Jewish tradition but defined themselves as "Christians" distinguished from it, he explained.

Crosby-Schoen Codex was owned by the University of Mississippi until 1981, but has since been owned by Martin Schoen, a Norwegian book and handwritten collector, since 1988. In addition to Crosby-Shoen Codex, Schoen will offer 61 collections, including 13th-century Hebrew manuscripts, at the auction.

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Sunday, June 9, 2024

Egyptian Archaeologists Continue Searching for Ancient Treasures in Minya

Egyptian Archaeologists Continue Searching for Ancient Treasures in Minya

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Ministry ofAntiquities on Sept. 20, 2020, shows one of 14 2,500-year-oldsarcophagi discovered in a burial shaft at the desert necropolis ofSaqqara, south of the capital Cairo. (Reuters Photo)
A handout picture released by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on Sept. 20, 2020, shows one of 14 2,500-year-old sarcophagi discovered in a burial shaft at the desert necropolis of Saqqara, south of the capital Cairo. (Reuters Photo)

Egyptian archaeologists have been searching for four years to find more pharaonic treasures in al- Ghoreifa area, Minya province (Upper Egypt).

Excavations carried out in the three past years helped unearth antiquities that belong to prominent statesmen from the Late Period of ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The Egyptian mission, headed by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the supreme council of antiquities, launched its fourth excavation season with the discovery of belongings of Jahouti Umm Hoteb, supervisor of Thrones in the 26th dynasty (664-525 B.C.) that ruled 2,500 years ago.

The antiquities ministry announced Monday that the mission found his sarcophagus in a well at a depth of 5 meters in Tuna el Gebel archaeological site, in al- Ghoreifa. It was found in good condition near a collection of Ushabti statues made of faience, said Waziri noting that "the excavations in the region are ongoing to unearth more treasures and secrets."

The first examinations indicate that this person was called Jahouti Umm Hoteb from the 26th dynasty; he was the supervisor of Thrones and his father was Guarda East, whose coffin was revealed by the mission in its first excavation season in 2018.

According to Jamal al-Samastawi, director-general of Middle Egypt Antiquities, "Al-Ghoreifa region is an expansion of the Tuna el Gebel archaeological site. It's an ancient cemetery in the 15th province of Upper Egypt."

"When the mission started its excavations in the area, it targeted the cemeteries of prominent statesmen of the New Kingdom and the Late Period of ancient Egypt. Over three seasons, it managed to unearth sarcophagus that belong to statesmen and priests from the Late Period of ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty, and it is currently searching for antiquities from the New Kingdom," he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

"The mission has launched the fourth excavation season in early August and found a stone sarcophagus from the 26th dynasty. The excavations are expected to continue in the region within the next five years because it is a promising area rich in Egyptian treasures," Samastawi concluded.

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Minister of Antiquities: 33,000 Egyptian Artefacts are Missing

Minister of Antiquities: 33,000 Egyptian Artefacts are Missing

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani stands beside  the collosus explaining new evidence pointing to it depicting  Psammetich I in Cairo, Egypt, March 16, 2017. Credit: Mohamed Abd El  Ghany/Reuters
Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani stands beside the collosus explaining new evidence pointing to it depicting Psammetich I in Cairo, Egypt, March 16, 2017. Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani revealed that 33,000 ancient artefacts are missing.

"31,000 of the missed pieces are kept in the house of a citizen, who tried to register them, after the endorsement of the law that allows keeping antiquities under the supervision of the ministry, and bans selling or exploiting them," Anani said during a parliamentary session.

"The best solution to protect antiquities against theft is to establish an electronic database, and we have already started working on it."

Last year, the Ministry of Antiquities launched a campaign to save and renovate museums' depots in order to save the human heritage and protect Egypt's archaeological treasures against violations and thefts.

At that time, archaeologists and parliamentarians called on the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities to explain the details of monuments theft, and to identify the perpetrator and his punishment before the public.

Archaeological sources said: "There are many archaeological depots that have not been inventoried before, and thus, myriads of pieces have not been registered." Egypt has 72 depots, 35 of which are in museums, 20 for archaeological missions, in addition to 17 sub depots in different governorates.

For his part, Archaeologist Osama Ibrahim said: «Museum storehouses are not secure, and the disappearance of this large number of antiquities indicates that Egypt's archaeological heritage is not protected", pointing out that the depots have seen deterioration and lack of protection, under a weak security system."

Speaking about the returned pieces, the minister said: "This year, we returned 500 pieces from more than 10 countries, along with 800 pieces in the last year," adding that the pieces which were exhibited at international auctions, were bought from a merchant for two pound each in 1932.The Egyptian law allowed the trade of antiquities until 1983.

Anani highlighted that the international law obstructs the return of the Egyptian monuments stolen abroad, because of the UNESCO Convention signed by Egypt since 1970. However, it's not true that 70% of the country's antiquities are stolen, and the Convention requires the submission of any document proving the ownership of the pieces to return them to their original country."

Finally, he announced that part of the Grand Egyptian Museum will be partially open for public at the end of this year, and revealed that a new international discovery will be unveiled within the few coming weeks, along with opening of the first museum in Mersa Matruh.

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