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Monday, December 31, 2018

Egypt to Implement Free Wi-Fi Services Across All Antiquities Sites in Luxor

Free Wi-Fi Services to Be Implemented Across All Antiquities Sites in Luxor

Get on Ra-ddit.

Luxor Temple

Egypt has announced that it will install free Wi-Fi services across tourist and antiquities sites across Luxor, according to an announcement by the president of the Central Authority for Information and Telecommunications in Luxor, Ahmed Hammam.

Currently, the Karnak Temple, the Luxor Temple and the Temple of Hatshepsut in in the historic Upper Egyptian city have the service running.

Hammam added that this is part of the implementation of a protocol signed by the governorate of Luxor and the Egyptian Telecommunications Company in order to promote tourism. Furthermore, installing the service in other sites throughout the governorate is currently in coordination.

2018 has seen authorities make a concerted effort to improve facilities and services around touristic sites, with possibly the biggest news coming in the form of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities signing a deal with Orascom Investment Holding for the company to provide and manage a host of first-class facilities around the Great Pyramids of Giza.

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Cleopatra’s calendar

Cleopatra's calendar

Cleopatra's calendar
It is entirely possible that the impetus for the Western calender, that is now in universal use, came from Cleopatra of Egypt rather than Julius Caesar
A new Gregorian calendar, amid cheers and hurrahs, will go up on our walls on January 1, 2019. From essentially being a Roman calendar, it has attained a universal status. While the names of 12 months, except July and August, have been derived from the calendar of ancient Roman republic, its length of 365 days (366 in case of leap year) has been attributed to the genius of one person, Julius Caesar. It was on January 1, 45 BC, that Caesar rolled out his new calendar. This was a year and quarter before his gruesome assassination by secret enemies inside the Senate hall. While he retained the names of old calendar months — and the now-defunct method of reckoning days from Kalends, Nones and Ides — he cast the year on an absolutely new basis. He abolished the queer lunar year of Rome completely and established in its place a tropical solar calendar. It is this particular feature that made the calendar suitable for universal use.
The ruined calendar of Rome was based on the lunar year, though paradoxically, its months did not coincide with the lunation cycle (unlike amongst ancient Greeks, Jews or Babylonians). Since a lunar year comprises 354 days (an artificial construct of 12 lunation of 29.5 days each), it continuously falls short of solar year by 11 days. This implies that unless those many lost days are compensated periodically, the calendar would be out of sync with the seasons. Romans had, no doubt, devised a four-year cycle where the first year had 355 days, the second 377 days, the third again 355 days and the fourth 378 days. These excess days were never placed at the end of any month, let alone the year. They were introduced as a separate series at the end of 23 days of February. The total number of days in such a calendar was 1,465 in four years, or about one day in excess every year. But these intercalations were often neglected due to political considerations or exigency of war.
This offended the Roman gods more than it did the citizens of the republic. The Roman months, previously 10 in number but subsequently revised to 12, were full of festivals, fasts and public ceremonies. All these events were devised according to seasons. But as the calendar, like a clock gone wrong, went out of sync with the seasons, the gods were no longer being propitiated at proper hours. The defects of this calendar were obvious to Caesar for close to three decades that he had been a part of Collegium Pontificum, the 15-member board of state priests, which was the highest authority on Roman religion. It was the responsibility of this body to keep the calendar in order.
In July (then called Quintilis), 46 BC, the Senate and the people of Rome appointed Caesar as the dictator for 10 years. He was already the Pontifex Maximus, the head of the board of priests since 63 BC. Thus, with compelling religious and political authority, he was in an enviable position to replace the ruined calendar of Rome. With repeated mishandling, the calendar had fallen more than two months behind the natural year. Thus, 67 extra days were added to 46 BC, between November and December. This has come to be known as the year of confusion, but more reasonably, the last year of confusion.
Caesar's solar calendar brought an end to the role of Collegium Pontificum in deciding the extent of the year. It replaced human intervention with an algorithm — fixed year length and quadrennial leap year. This was indeed a revolutionary reform. The lunar year, unlike a lunar month, has no grounding in astronomy. But the solar year of 365¼ days, like a natural day, is an astronomical phenomenon. It signifies the days taken by the earth to complete revolution round the sun.
It is true that in the days of Caesar, it was not known that the earth revolved around the sun. It was believed that the sun revolved round the earth, later formalised by the geo-centric model of Claudius Ptolemy. From the view of positional astronomy, however, it still makes no difference. The length of the solar year could be taken as the number of days from one spring equinox to the next. It could be from autumnal equinox to the next or from one summer/winter solstice to the next, too.
Spring Equinox could be described both as a day or point on the apparent elliptical path of sun. This reference point in the celestial coordinate system was described by the Hipparchus, the Greek, as 'First Point of Aries' in 130 BC. But due to the axial precession of the earth at the rate of one degree every 72 years, the point has moved westward to the cusp of zodiac signs, Pisces and Aquarius. Only the sun signs published in newspapers reflected the frozen view of the time.
In India, too, we have a host of solar calendars in use, especially in eastern and southern regions. But these are all sidereal solar calendars where the beginning of the month is linked to the entry of the sun in a particular zodiac. Most of these are linked to Mesh Sankranti or entry of the sun in Aries (as it now stands) in April 14 or 15 (whenever it is).
It is speculative from where Caesar got his idea of recasting the calendar on solar basis. Possibly he came to know about it during his hazardous sojourn in Egypt in 48-47 BC. The most notable event of his sojourn was his meeting with Cleopatra, the co-ruler of Egypt. After the civil war in Egypt was over, the two went for a month-long cruise of the Nile, where they are known to have developed intimacy.
The ancient Egyptians had discovered the length of the natural year as 365 ¼ days from the heliacal rising of the Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. But the stout refusal by the priest-astronomer class to add one day after every four years, saw the calendar getting estranged from the seasons. An ancestor of Cleopatra viz, Ptolemy III, also called Euergetae, drew up a plan in 238 BC to reform the deranged calendar. Ptolemy III was ably supported by the astronomers of ancient University of Alexandria. The royal proclamation for reform of the calendar is known as 'Canopus Decree'. It was the first royal proclamation on record for a leap year.
Caesar's calendar, despite having the system of a leap year — or quadrennial intercalation of one day — could not escape the flaws of computation. It assumed the length of the solar year as 365 ¼ days (365 days and six hours); whereas it is actually 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. This superfluity of 11¼ minutes per year would result in surplus of 18¾ hours in one century — or three quarters of a whole day.
Over four centuries, the Julian calendar would have generated three extra days. Pope Gregory XIII had, thus, 10 extra days to deal in 1582, when he carried out 'Gregorian Reforms'. That is another story  fit to be narrated at some other time.
(The writer is an independent researcher based in New Delhi. The opinions expressed herein are his personal)
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Roman sarcophagi discovered in Egypt's Damietta - Greco-Roman - Heritage - Ahram Online

Roman sarcophagi discovered in Egypt's Damietta

A collection of mud brick sarcophagi from the Roman period with the remains of mummies has been unearthed in Damietta

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 30 Dec 2018

During excavation work at Tel Al-Deir in Egypt's Damietta, an Egyptian mission has uncovered a collection of cylindrical mud-brick sarcophagi painted in red.

The sarcophagi are dated to the Roman period, and the lids of some of them are decorated with the facial features of the deceased and others are engraved with deep lines and geometrical symbols.

gold rings

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the sarcophagi hold the remains of cartonnage made of white limestone to reflect the facial features and body of the deceased after wrapping the corpses with linen.

The mission has also uncovered remains of clay pots and 700 amulets of different shapes and sizes, including amulets in the shapes of the deities Isis, Horus and Tawusert. Five gold rings were also found, including three decorated with grapes and dolphins.

amulets and scarabs

Nadia Khedre, director of the central department of antiquities in lower Egypt, said that the mission had previously uncovered in the area remains of a 26th dynasty cemetery from the reign of kings Psamtik II and Nefer Ib Re, where a large collection of stone sarcophagi was found along with amulets, scarabs and ushabti figurines with the name of King Psamtik II, which have been transferred to the new Grand Egyptian Museum.



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Egypt Kills 40 Terrorists in Crackdown After Fatal Giza Pyramids Attack

Egypt Kills 40 Terrorists in Crackdown After Fatal Giza Pyramids Attack

sinai military

GIZA, Egypt (AFP) — Egyptian police killed 40 suspects in a crackdown on Saturday after a roadside bomb hit a tour bus claiming the lives of three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian guide.

Thirty alleged "terrorists" were killed in separate raids in Giza governorate, home to Egypt's famed pyramids and the scene of Friday's deadly bombing, while 10 others were killed in the restive North Sinai, the interior ministry said without directly linking them to the attack.

It said authorities had received information the suspects were preparing a spate of attacks "targeting state institutions, particularly economic ones, as well as tourism, armed forces, police and Christian places of worship."

A security source said the raids took place early Saturday morning, hours after Friday evening's roadside bombing which officials said hit a tour bus in the Al-Haram district near the Giza pyramids killing the three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide.

Eleven other tourists from Vietnam and an Egyptian bus driver were wounded, the public prosecutor's office said.

Saigon Tourist, the company that organized the trip, said the tourists were "on their way to a restaurant for dinner" when the bomb exploded.

Company officials were heading to Cairo on Saturday and plans were made to allow some relatives of the victims to also fly to Egypt.

One of them was Nguyen Nguyen Vu whose sister Nguyen Thuy Quynh, 56, died in the bombing, while her husband, Le Duc Minh, was wounded.

The couple, both aged 56, were in the seafood business, Quynh's younger brother said.

"We were all very shocked… My sister and her husband travel quite a lot and they are quite experienced in travelling abroad," Vu told AFP.

He said he was applying for a visa for Egypt and hoped to travel on Saturday. "Our wish is that we could bring my sister back home."

Vietnam's foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang thanked Egyptians who were caring for the survivors.

"Vietnam is very angry and strongly condemns the terrorist act that killed and injured many innocent Vietnamese and has asked Egypt to soon open an investigation, chase and give harsh punishment to those who carried out these terrorist act," she said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, the first attack to target tourists since 2017.

Friday's attack was the latest blow to Egypt's vital tourism industry, which has been reeling from turmoil set off by the 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Hosni Mubarak from power.

While tourism has picked up since 2011, the 8.2 million people who visited Egypt in 2017 are still a far cry from the 14.7 million who visited in the year before the uprising.

"Yesterday's attack undermines the Egyptian government's very determined message that the country is safe for tourists," said Zack Gold, a US-based expert on Middle East security issues.

Egypt has been seeking to lure tourists back by touting new archaeological discoveries and bolstering security around archaeological sites and in airports.

It is also planning to open a major museum near the Giza pyramids — the only surviving structures of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In July 2017, two German tourists were stabbed to death by a suspected jihadist at the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

In October 2015, a bomb claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group killed 224 people on board a passenger jet carrying Russian tourists home from the Sinai peninsula.

Fragile security

Before Friday's bombing security forces were already on high alert ahead of New Year celebrations and the Coptic Christmas on January 7.

Pope Francis said he was "deeply saddened" by the attack on holidaymakers, in a telegram to the Egyptian presidency which was signed by his number two Pietro Parolin.

"In deploring this senseless and brutal act, he prays for the victims and their families, for the injured and for the emergency personnel who generously came to their aid," the telegram said.

The blast and the subsequent police raids come as Egypt battles a persistent jihadist insurgency in the North Sinai, which surged after the 2013 overthrow by the army of Mubarak's Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi.

Jihadists linked to the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including against Egypt's Coptic Christian minority who make up about 10 percent of the population.

The army launched a large-scale operation dubbed "Sinai 2018" in February to rid the Sinai of jihadists after an attack on a mosque in the north of the peninsula killed more than 300 people.The army says that hundreds of suspected jihadists have been killed since the campaign was launched.

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heneghan peng architects - The Design of the Grand Egyptian Museum | Giza, Egypt

The Grand Egyptian Museum | Giza, Egypt

Giza, Egypt

The site for the Grand Egyptian Museum is located at the edge of the first desert plateau between the pyramids and Cairo. It is defined by a 50m level difference, created as the Nile carves its way through the desert to the Mediterranean, a geological condition that has shaped Egypt for over 3,000 years. 

The pyramids, funerary monuments, are located in the desert on the plateau 2km from the museum site, while the site for the museum is located both in the valley and on the plateau.

The design of the museum utilises the level difference to construct a new 'edge' to the plateau, a surface defined by a veil of translucent stone that transforms from day to night. The museum exists between the level of the Nile Valley and the plateau, never extending above the plateau.

A 3-dimensional structure inscribed by a set of visual axes from the site to the three pyramids defines the framework within which the museum emerges, from the overall scale of the site to the smallest of details.

The approach to the museum is a series of layers, whereby the visitor moves through a monumental forecourt, a shaded entrance area and a grand staircase that ascends to plateau level, the level at which the galleries are located where for the first time the visitor sees the pyramids from within the museum.

The museum is envisaged as a cultural complex of activities devoted to Egyptology and will contain 24,000m² of permanent exhibition space, almost 4 football fields in size, a children's museum, conference and education facilities, a large conservation centre and extensive gardens on the 50hA site. The collections of the museum include the Tutankhamen collection, that is currently housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the Solar Boat that is now housed beside the pyramids.

Fact sheet


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Phase 1 (Conservation Centre) Complete Pre-Tender


Giza, Egypt


Architects (Cairo)


Structural | Civil | Traffic

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Buro Happold | Shaker Engineering (Cairo)

Design Team Management

Davis Langdon


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IT | Security | Fire | Acoustics

Buro Happold


West 8 | Sites (Cairo)

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heneghan peng architects
14–16 Lord Edward Street, Floor 2
Dublin D02 YC63, Ireland

Tel +353 (0)1 633 9000
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Tel +49 30 20 89 88 750
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Part three ... 2018: The year of archaeological discoveries - Egypt Today
An An "exceptionally well-preserved" tomb belonging to a Fifth Dynasty royal priest was discovered at Saqqara by an Egyptian archaeological mission - Egypt Today

Part three ... 2018: The year of archaeological discoveries

Mon, Dec. 31, 2018

CAIRO – 31 December 2018: Early 2018, Egyptian minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany announced 2018 as the year of archaeological discoveries. Anany added that every week and every day in some cases, an archaeological discovery is revealed; hence, Egypt should be introduced to the global stage in a positive way.

Egypt Today provides readers with a timeline of 2018's archaeological discoveries.


On September 2, one of the oldest villages ever located in the Nile Delta was uncovered. Discoveries from the Neolithic period are substantially anonymous in this area, so this discovery is of great importance.

The importance of this discovery is based on the fact that these buildings, which date back to the Neolithic period, are not known in this region, and were only discovered by the Egyptian Exploration Society in one location, namely Sais in Gharbia Governorate. A dozen silos containing a huge quantity of animal bones and botanical remains was also discovered.

On September 5, a rocky cemetery, located at the north east of Senusret I pyramid was uncovered.

On September 16, a sphinx statue made of sandstone was discovered in Temple of KomOmbo in Aswan.

The discovered sphinx most probably dates back to the Ptolemaic era and it was found in the south-eastern side of KomOmbo Temple in the area between the outer wall of the temple and the archaeological hill.

On September 18, a tomb dating back to the late period of ancient Egypt was uncovered. The tomb contained a sculpted sandstone sarcophagus with a well-preserved mummy wrapped in linen among other things.

On September 20, 20 tombs from the Graco-Roman period dating back to late ancient Egypt and early Christianity were uncovered.

The three other tombs were found in the area where remains of clay sarcophagi were unearthed, some of which have paintings while others are inscribed with hieroglyphic texts.

During the archaeological cleaning of the tomb the mission found a collection of mummies haphazardly buried, suggesting that the tomb was used as a communal burial.

Also the head of an unidentified sandstone statue was also uncovered along with a collection of amulets made of faience.

On September 25, The Egyptian archaeological mission in Mit Rahina discovered a huge archaeological building in Demerdash basin area located 400 km north of Mit Rahina Museum.

The discovered building was built of brick blocks supported by huge blocks of limestone, whose foundations, external walls and inner staircase were built with red brick molds.

Another building affiliated to the huge building was uncovered. The second building contains a large Romanian bathroom and a room that might have been used for performing religious rites, which refers to the possibility of the existence of domiciles.

Inside this room the mission discovered offerings pots holder made of limestone decorated on one side with the head of the God, Bes. The room also contains basins for disinfection and small columns of limestone.

To the north of the building and inside the eastern wall, a limestone entrance with a width of 112 cm, and a height of 106 cm was discovered. Another entrance, leading to a staircase built on two axes from the west to the east and from the south to the north, was uncovered to the right side of the former entrance.

Furthermore, a room attached to the outer wall of the building used for servants was discovered in the northeastern corner of the building; the room contains a baking oven tile similar to that used in modern Egyptian villages.

On September 27, two ancient tombs containing two mummified corpses were uncovered.


On October 1, two ancient paintings made of sandstone were uncovered, one of which belongs to the second king of the 19th dynasty King Seti I while the other belongs to King Ptolemy IV.

The first painting is 2.30 m in height and 1 m wide, with a thickness of 30 cm. It was found broken, divided into two parts but its inscriptions and writings were in good condition.

The second painting was found broken into several parts, with a height of 3.25 m, width of 1.15 m and 30 cm in thickness.

The first painting depicts King Seti I standing in front of the great god Horus and the goddess Sobek; this scene is topped with a winged sun as a symbol of protection.

Below this scene is a text that consists of 26 lines written with a hieroglyphic language, in which the name of King Horemheb is mentioned several times.

Regarding the painting of King Ptolemy IV it showed the king standing, holding a stick's end is in the form of Horus while behind him stands his wife Arsinoe III, in front him the triad of the temple, and above them the winged sun, and below a text written with hieroglyphic that consists of 28 lines.

On October 17, The unique 3,000-year-old tattooed mummy, uncovered in Deir El-Madina in Luxor's west bank in 2014, belongs to an elite woman who may have lived in a period between 1,300 B.C. and 1,070 B.C. and died at the age range of 25 - 34. 30 tattoos of different figures such as a wild bull, a sheep, a lotus flower, a baboon and the Eye of Horus were depicted all over the mummy's body.

It is believed that the woman had drawn many tattoos on her body to show the significant religious role she may have played during her lifetime.

On October 25, The archaeological mission working at an archaeological site in El-Matareya found a full ancient royal celebration hall dating back to the era of Ramses II.


On November 6, a number of inscription fragments and fragments of smaller statuary were uncovered at the Temple of the Sun in Matariya.

The discovered fragments date back to the 12th and 20th dynasties as well as the Third Intermediate Period. The discovered inscriptions refer to the creator God Atum as being responsible for the flood of the Nile.

On November 10,three tombs dating back to the Pharaonic modern-state era of Egypt and four other ancient ones containing a group of artifacts including mummified cats "Bastet", were unearthed at Giza's Saqqara necropolis. Bastet was a goddess of the ancient Egyptian religion.
On November 14, a grave of a woman and her fetus dating back 3,700 years was uncovered at Kom Ombo, Aswan.


On December 7 The archaeological mission working in the archaeological site of al-Khalwa area, Fayoum, has uncovered a burial well, located to the east of the Prince Waji's.

On December 13 A new cemetery dating back to the 18th Dynasty was unearthed by the Swedish archaeological mission at Gebel el-Silsilain KomOmbo.

On December 15 An "exceptionally well-preserved" tomb belonging to a Fifth Dynasty royal priest was discovered at Saqqara by an Egyptian archaeological mission.

On December 30, The archeological mission affiliated to the Ministry of Antiquities working in Tel el-Deir in Damietta unearthed a collection of red and cylindrical clay coffins.
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Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded - News - The Jakarta Post

Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future clouded

Menna Zaki

Agence France-Presse

Giza, Egypt  /  Mon, December 31, 2018  /  05:09 am

Tourists throng Egypt pyramids after bombing, but future          clouded
This picture taken on December 29, 2018 shows tourist horse-drawn carts waiting by the base of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops) at the Giza necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP/Mohamed El-Shahed )

Crowds of tourists stared in awe at the towering pyramids of Giza near Cairo Saturday undaunted by a nearby bomb attack a day earlier that killed holidaymakers from Vietnam. 

A roadside bombing claimed the lives of three tourists and their Egyptian guide Friday when it ripped through the bus they were on as it traveled near the world-famous attraction. 

The attack comes as Egypt's vital tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability and jihadist violence that scared visitors away. 

"I think terrorism can strike anywhere in the world," Somand Yang from South Korea told AFP. 

"You have to be careful but it is also like luck."

Security forces guarded the entrance to the sprawling site and Yang, 32, said she had no qualms about visiting.

"Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. So I figured it will be even safer today," she said. 

- 'Completely devastated' -

Excited holidaymakers rode camels and queued to enter a tomb as they snapped pictures of the Great Pyramid, the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Hawkers followed the tourists, doggedly trying to sell trinkets and souvenirs.

Read also: Egypt struggles to restore Cairo's historic heart

Despite the steady flow of visitors, Egyptians working at the site said they were shaken by the attack -- and concerned that it could hit their livelihoods. 

"I knew the guide who died yesterday," said Dalia Sadaka, as she accompanied a group of sightseers. 

"I completely broke down yesterday, but I had to get to work in the morning," she said, pointing to her visibly swollen eyes.

- 'Truly regrettable' -

Earlier hit hard by a string of bloody attacks and unrest, visitor numbers to Egypt have more recently staged a partial recovery. 

In October 2015, a bomb claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group killed all 224 people on board a passenger jet carrying Russian tourists over the Sinai peninsula.  

That incident dealt a severe blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which was still reeling from the turmoil set off by the 2011 uprising that forced veteran leader Hosni Mubarak from power.

The official statistics agency says arrivals reached 8.2 million in 2017, up from 5.3 million the year before.

But that figure was still far short of the record influx in 2010 when over 14 million came. 

"I fear yesterday's incident may have an impact on our source of income," said an elderly man who offers camel rides, declining to give his name. 

"It is very regrettable," he said. "We were finally happy that tourism started picking up a bit."

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Roman era statue confiscated in port of Salloum - Egypt Today
File - The confiscated statue File - The confiscated statue

Roman era statue confiscated in port of Salloum

Mon, Dec. 31, 2018

CAIRO - 31 December 2018:The archaeological unit of the port of Salloum, in cooperation with the port's police department, succeeded to confiscate a statue made of alabaster dating back to the Roman era with one of the passengers.

Head of the Central Administration of Ports and Archaeological Units Hamdi Hammam stated that the port authorities found the statue with one of the passengers; they suspected that the statue is an ancient archaeological piece.

FILE - Ancient Egypt

The authorities then presented it to the archaeological unit at the port and later confiscated it in favor of the Ministry of Antiquities, in accordance with the Antiquities Protection Act No. 117 of 1983 and its amendments.

Supervisor of the archaeological ports of Matrouh and Salloum, Khalil Ramadan, stated that the statue is a half-sized alabaster statue of a woman in the fourth decade, with a height of 27 centimeters.

The statue contained fragmented parts, in addition to what appeared as a Roman hairstyle and the remains of a head cover.
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In Egypt, the Nile still brings life | Daily Mail Online

In Egypt, the Nile still brings life

Egypt is a country of barren desert with the blessing of the world's longest river. The Nile allowed the ancients to develop the most sophisticated civilisation of their time and it supports 100 million Egyptians today.

Rattling by train along the river from Cairo to Aswan, 850km to the south, it's easy to see how the ancient Egyptians were able to thrive. Even now the river looks healthy - vibrant green palms sprout from the banks, while fields alongside are alive with sugarcane, fava beans and cotton.

A few metres further away from the water, the land becomes dead, brown and dry. The expansive Sahara may be striking, but it's unforgiving.

Aswan, with a population of just under 300,000, is one of the hottest, driest cities on earth. The city has sometimes gone without rain for years on end.

But there's still a surf culture. Children float on boards, giggling and singing Nubian songs to tourists sailing by on ferries and feluccas, in the hope of some dollars.

In ancient times, Aswan was the southern gateway to Egypt. Here, the Nile runs deep and wide, polishing stone and granite that's furnished statues, obelisks, shrines and tombs throughout the country. That includes the pyramids, our Intrepid Travel guide Walid Nawasany tells us.

Modern Aswan is most famous for its dam, which has also left its indelible mark on Egypt.

The British built the Low Dam in 1902, in attempt to control the late summer floods along the Nile, to provide surplus water in times of drought for irrigation, and to generate hydroelectricity. The High Dam followed, built across the river between 1960 and 1970.

It was seen as pivotal to Egypt's planned industrialisation, but the future was given more importance than the past. The dam flooded a large area that is now known as Lake Nasser, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. While it improved Egypt's agricultural production, it also forced the relocation of 100,000 people and submerged ancient archaeological sites.

Many ancient Egyptian treasures remain forever committed to the deep.

Others were painstakingly relocated under the desert sun to new homes - piece by piece.

On the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230km south of Aswan at the village of Abu Simbel, sit four 20-metre-high statues of Pharaoh Ramesses II. Carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC during Ramesses' reign, the statues, part of a huge temple complex, were designed to impress those entering Egypt from the south.

Today, the colossal beings gaze solemnly over the empty desert, as if they're less than impressed by modern goings on.

They have reason to be aloof. As the years went on they became forgotten, half buried in sand, before the waters of Lake Nasser threatened to finish them off. Thankfully they were saved; beginning in 1964 a multinational team cut up the site, moved the resulting blocks and reassembled them 200 metres away on a hill, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history.

It was worth it. The domineering presence of the statues reminds me of how intimidating the all-powerful would have been in ancient times. Inside the temple are numerous side chambers, the stunning hieroglyphs on the walls telling of the pharaoh's military accomplishments

Another ancient temple rescued from the rising waters was the stunning complex of Philae, moved to an island in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam before the High Dam was completed.

Philae was said to be one of the burying places of Osiris, the god of the underworld.

Originally constructed between 380 and 362BC, its immense columns, pylons and carvings are as beautiful as they are remarkable; there is little sign of ruin or age, despite the temple's journey.

Egyptologists believe Philae was the last active site of the ancient Egyptian religion. Paganism was suppressed soon after and the temple became a Christian church.

Egypt used to be a major Christian country, of course, until the Islamic Conquest swept through the Arabian Peninsula between the 11th and 14th centuries, the serpentine trail of religion as ever-shifting as the Nile itself.

Modern day Aswan is a town where women dressed in long black hijabs sweep through the souk, shopping on their heads in plastic bags; where men chat in cafes smoking their shishas next to huge woven baskets of spices, popcorn and dried, red hibiscus flowers.

The call to prayer is when the city is at its most beautiful. Our tour group rides camels in the nearby Sahara, the kids bouncing over stony dunes, mesmerised by the whining calls.

Our Intrepid guide organises an evening for us with a local Nubian family in their brightly painted home on the west bank. We eat amazing stews, moussaka and sticky baklavas, then dance while the kids play football.

I wonder if the kids have ever seen rain. I don't suppose they care much. I've seen them drink the Nile's waters (which tourists are told never to do) and glide through its ripples, enjoying their watery paradise.

Like the ancient Egyptians way before them, they have shaped their life around the river, while the river has adapted its course for man. Despite the movement of humans, water and sand, most ancient statues and temples have survived.

Like the Nile that supports so many, that's an accomplishment.


GETTING THERE: Emirates and Qantas fly from most Australian state capitals to Cairo via Dubai.

STAYING AND PLAYING THERE: Intrepid Travel's Egypt Family Holiday for Solo Parents trip starts and ends in Cairo. The nine-day trip costs from $1,560 per person twin-share and the minimum age for children on this trip is five years old. A discount of 10 per cent applies on this trip to children 17 years and under at time of travel. Intrepid offers small group adventures on more than 1000 itineraries worldwide. For more, visit

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Part two ... 2018: The year of archaeological discoveries - Egypt Today
FILE- A 30-ton archaeological sarcophagus was found below a        building in Alexandria governorate, Egypt - Ministry of        Antiquities official Facebook page
FILE- A 30-ton archaeological sarcophagus was found below a building in Alexandria governate, Egypt - Ministry of Antiquities official Facebook page

Part two ... 2018: The year of archaeological discoveries

Sun, Dec. 30, 2018

CAIRO – 30 December 2018: Early 2018, Egyptian minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany announced 2018 as the year of archaeological discoveries. Anany added that every week and every day in some cases, an archaeological discovery is revealed; hence, Egypt should be introduced to the global stage in a positive way.

Egypt Today provides readers with a timeline of 2018's archaeological discoveries.


On May 9, a tomb of Great Army General, Iwrhya, from King Ramsses II's reign was uncovered.

The discovered tomb was found in the New Kingdom necropolis, south of the Causeway of King Unas in Saqqara, Giza.

The tomb probably dates back to the reigns of king Sethi I and King Ramesses III in the 19th Dynasty. The owner of the tomb was a great army general in the period of King Ramesses II, and his name, Iwrkhy, appears on the tomb, along with the names of his son and his grandson. According to the inscription found on the tomb's walls, Iwrkhy's grandson also occupied a significant position.

Iwrkhy began his military career during the reign of king Sethi I and reached higher positions in the Egyptian court during the reign of king Ramesses II; he had foreign origins and was among the few foreigners who could reach high positions in the Egyptian court in the New Kingdom.

Influenced by the contemporary tombs in the area, the tomb includes a forecourt, a statue room with adjacent plastered vaulted storehouses, a peristyle court and western chapels that are still not excavated.

Exceptional scenes from Iwrkhy's military career and scenes depicting the foreign relations with neighboring countries, including images of mooring boats taking down their loads of Canaanite wine jars, are found on the walls of the statue room and on the blocks. Furthermore, the artistic features of the tomb evidently prove that it was constructed in thereigns of king Sethi I and king Ramesses II.

On May 11, remains of a temple that dates back to the Greco-Roman period during the era of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius were unveiled.

The temple apparently belonged to Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, who reigned from 138 AD to 161 AD and ruled the Al-Hag Ali village in Siwa Oasis, situated 350m away of Gabal Al-Marwa (Mountain of the Dead).

This discovery is an archaeological evidence of the history of Siwa Oasis during the Greco-Roman era in Egypt. The temple consists of a foundation of a limestone, which is being measured 40m from north to south and 8.5m from east to west.

On May 24, parts of a huge red brick building, which are probably part of a bath dating back to the Greco-Roman era was uncovered. pottery vessels, terracotta statues, bronze tools, a stone fragment engraved with hieroglyphs and a small statue of a ram were all uncovered as well.

The most important discovered artifact is a gold coin of King Ptolemy III, which was made during the reign of King Ptolemy IV. One of the coin's faces is decorated with a portrait of King Ptolemy III wearing the crown and the other side is the Land of Prosperity surrounded with the name of the king.


On June 13, an archaeological site, which was used in several eras as a quarry and a place for manufacturing flint was discovered in Elkab desert, Aswan. Several rock slabs with paintings and inscriptions on them were also uncovered, some of which date back to the Predynastic and Protodynastic era, along with burial tumuli, some of which dating back to the Protodynastic Period, while others dating back to the Late Roman era. This site, known as the lost "Oasis" or the ancient well, is considered a very important archaeological and epigraphic site in the Eastern Desert, which was believed to be devoid of ancient remains.

On June 24, A gold coin from the Islamic period was discovered by an Egyptian-French mission during an underwater excavation at Abuqir Bay in Alexandria.

On June 25, A well-preserved set of canopic jars was discovered in the tomb of Karabasken (TT 391), in the South Asasif Necropolis on the West Bank of Luxor. The uncovered jars are made of Egyptian alabaster and probably held viscera.

Although the contents of the jars were damaged by floodwater, the jars still contained a large amount of resin. The sizes of the jars (with lids) vary from 35.5 to 39.4 cm. The lids depict a human, a baboon, a jackal and a falcon and are skillfully carved and modeled by three different artists. The jars are belong to the "Lady of the House Amenirdis" from the 26th Dynasty.


On July 1, a statuette of Osiris was uncovered at the eastern side of the King Djoser Step Pyramid in Saqqara. The statue was found in a small incision between the huge blocks of the pyramid's eastern fa├žade. The statuette is for Osiris, the god of resurrection and eternity, and depicts Osiris wearing the double crown, and holding a feather in one hand and a scepter in the other.

On July 1, Egypt unearthed a 2,000-year-old sarcophagus in Alexandria, revealing that it is made of black granite of about 265 meters in length and 185 centimetres in height. The 30-ton tomb was found at a depth of five meters beneath the surface of the land.

On July 3, a cache containing hundreds of pottery vessels, dating back to the beginning of the Greco-Roman era, the Coptic era and the Islamic era was uncovered.

The discovered items include vessels which contain ashes of dead people; these vessels were used to bury the ashes during the Hellenistic period in the Greek era. The items also include a large collection of liquid vessels of various shapes and sizes, as well as crockery and colored pots, a large number of dishes which date back to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods and large quantities of glazed pottery decorated with geometric and vegetal drawings dating back to the Islamic era.

Such an archaeological discovery is very important because it unveils archaeological collections which have not been studied before, making it a reference for future archaeological studies.

On July 10, An ancient city dating back to the Greco-Roman era was discovered in Minya governorate. The uncovered city contains many ancient tombs carved in rocks, and extending to about 2 kilometres and 600 meters in width, as well as Greek-Roman columns, a church, and a cross.

On July 12 ,an archaeological site that includes several chambers dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods was discovered. Some of the discovered rooms are an obvious portrayal of the Roman architectural style; the rooms contain the well-known Roman marble columns and walls of large stone blocks with right angles, proving they date back to the Roman era. A large number of coins were also found in these rooms.

Meanwhile, other rooms show Byzantine walls with irregularly sized stone blocks with spaces filled with weak Byzantine mortar, which were found broken.

On July 14, Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany announced the discovery of more than five stone coffins at Saqqara area, and declared it "a great archaeological discovery".

Anany added that the Egyptian-German mission succeeded in uncovering a complete mummification workshop which contains burial chambers with mummies dating back to the 26th and 27th dynasty.

A gilded mummy mask decorated with half-precious stones was discovered covering the face of one of the mummies. The discovered items included three mummies, a group of canopic vessels made of calcite and a number of Ushabtis as well.

Anany stressed that the new archaeological discovery in Saqqara dates back to the late period of Ancient Egypt, from the seventh century BC to the fifth century BC.

The importance of such a discovery lies in its relevance to an important issue that the whole world is concerned with, which is the mummification, methods of embalming, its workshops and tools.

The greatness of this discovery lies also in that it was found in Saqqara, which no archaeological mission had visited since 1900.

The discovered mummification workshop hosted 1,500 Ushabti statues, the well in which the workshop is located in is connected to another well and is expected to be uncovered during the upcoming period.

On July 19, Egypt opened the mysterious sarcophagus, amid rumors of a "possible curse" that could be cast on the world once the sarcophagus is opened. Three decomposed mummies were found in the sarcophagus.

None of the three mummies belong to a Ptolemaic or Roman royal family and the coffin does not have inscriptions or a cartouche bearing their names.

No evidence such as silver or gold metallic masks, small statues, amulets or inscriptions were found to prove that the mummies belong to a royal family.

the matter that denied the rumors spread by some international newspapers that opening the sarcophagus would unleash the curse that would bring disaster to the world.

Since its discovery, the mysterious tomb has internationally grasped attention, and several international websites warned of its opening as it would be "a risky business or so history tells us" for the possibility of unleashing the curse that would bring disaster to the world, as remarked by the British news website The Sun.

On July 21, Egyptian Archaeologists have discovered an ancient pottery manufacturing workshop dating back more than 4,000 years in Aswan.

The workshop, the oldest pottery workshop in the Old Kingdom, belongs to the 4th Dynasty, spanning 2,613 to 2,494 B.C. Inside the workshop, archaeologists have found an ancient pottery manufacturing wheel made of a turntable and a hollow base.

This discovery is "rare" and reveals more about the improvement of pottery manufacturing and the daily lives of ancient Egyptians during that time in history.


On August 9, a sphinx was found at Al-Kabbash Road. The Sphinx's discovery is expected as several sphinx statues are found across Luxor such as the sphinx statues for King Aymanhotb III and Thutmose IV.

On August 15, two ancient pieces made of mud-sand that date back to the Ptolemaic era were uncovered at theTemple of Kom Ombo in the city of Aswan, south of Egypt.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was founded in 305 BC by Ptolemy I Soter (Macedonian General), who declared himself pharaoh of Egypt and created a powerful Hellenistic dynasty that ruled an area stretching from southern Syria to Cyrene and south to Nubia.

Each discovered piece is two meters in height, and consists of numerous codes and carvings.

On August 16, A Yorkshire based expert revealed that Ancient Egyptians were actually consecrating mummies 1,500 years earlier than previously thought; almost 6,000 years ago.

The discovery was made after tests were performed on a mummy that dates back between 3,700-3,500 BC.

On August 26, An Egyptian archaeological team has discovered a cemetery that dates back to the Ptolemaic dynasty in Alexandria. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom based in ancient Egypt. It was ruled by the Ptolemaic dynasty, which started with Ptolemy I Soter's accession after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and which ended with the death of Cleopatra and the Roman conquest in 30 BC.  
--   Sent from my Linux system.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you the best of New Years, or, at the very least, one that is better than 2018.  I'd say "How could it get any worse?" but that would be foolish.


Dave Barry's Year in Review 2018

You thought 2016 and 2017 were bad? Let's look back at this past year.

Story by
Illustrated by Ryan McAmis
We can summarize 2018 in two words:
It boofed.
We're not 100 percent sure what "boofing" is, despite the fact that this very issue was discussed in a hearing of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. All we know for certain about boofing is that it is distasteful and stupid.
As was 2018.
In spades.
What made this year so awful? We could list many factors, including natural disasters, man-made atrocities, the utter depravity of our national political discourse and the loss of Aretha Franklin. Instead we'll cite one event that, while minor, epitomizes 2018: the debut of "Dr. Pimple Popper." This is a cable TV reality show featuring high-definition slo-mo close-up videos of a California dermatologist performing seriously disgusting procedures on individuals with zits the size of mature cantaloupes. You might ask, "Who on Earth would voluntarily watch that?" The answer, in 2018, was: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That is the state of our culture. We can only imagine what new reality shows lie ahead. We would not rule out "Dr. Butt Wiper" or "People Blow Their Noses Directly Onto the Camera Lens."
Is there anything good we can say about 2018? Only this: It got us out of 2017. But even that didn't work out as we hoped.
As you recall, we, as a nation, spent all of 2017 obsessing over 2016: the election, the Russians, the emails, the Mueller probe, the Russians, the Russians, the Russians. … That was all we heard about, day after soul-crushing day, for the entire year.
So when 2018 finally dawned, we were desperately hoping for change. It was a new year, a chance for the nation to break out of the endless, pointless barrage of charges and countercharges, to move past the vicious, hate-filled hyperpartisan spew of name-calling and petty point-scoring, to end the 24/7 cycle of media hysteria, to look forward and begin to tackle the many critical issues facing the nation, the most important of which turned out to be …
… the 2016 election.
Yes. We could not escape it. We were like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day," except that when our clock-radio went off, instead of Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You Babe," we awoke to still MORE talk of Russians and emails; MORE childish semiliterate presidential tweets about FAKE NEWS and Crooked Hillary; MORE freakouts by cable TV panelists predicting that — forget about the previous 300 times they made the same prediction — THIS time impeachment was IMMINENT, PEOPLE. IMMINENT!!
Meet the new year: same as the old year.
So at some point during 2018, normal, non-Beltway-dwelling Americans simply stopped paying attention to current events. Every now and then we'd tune in to a cable TV news show to see what kinds of issues our nation's elite political/media class was grappling with, and we'd see a headline like "PORN STAR STORMY DANIELS: TRUMP DIDN'T USE A CONDOM."
That was when "Dr. Pimple Popper" started to look pretty good.
So we're very glad that 2018 is finally over. Once again we're on the cusp of a new year, another chance for change. And once again, we find ourselves feeling stirrings of hope — hope that the coming year really will be better. Why do we feel this way? Why, despite all our past disappointments, do we believe things really can improve? Because we are morons, apparently.
So let's not get too excited about 2019. Our emotional state, going forward, should be hopelessness leavened with despair, as we can see when we look back at the grotesque boof-a-palooza that was 2018, starting with …


… which sees world tensions rise when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un states that he has a nuclear missile launch button on his desk. This leaves U.S. Commander in Chief Donald Trump with no viable military option but to fire up his Random Capitalizer App and tweet "I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his," thereby leaving no doubt as to which leader is more secure regarding the size of his button. In an apparent effort to reassure everyone on his mental state, the president also issues a tweet in which he describes himself as "genius….and a very stable genius at that!" Which is EXACTLY HOW VERY STABLE GENIUSES TALK, OKAY??
The intellectual level of the national discourse soars even higher when it is reported that, during an Oval Office meeting on immigration reform, the president referred to some poorer nations as "s—holes." This upsets many people, especially the frowny panelpersons of CNN, who find the word "s—hole" so deeply offensive that they repeat it roughly 15 times per hour for a solid week. Washington is consumed by a heated debate over what, exactly, the president said; the tone and substance of this debate are reflected in this actual sentence from a Washington Post story: "Three White House officials said [Sen. David] Perdue and [Sen. Tom] Cotton told the White House that they heard 's—house' rather than 's—hole,' allowing them to deny the president's comments on television over the weekend." (This is known in legal circles as the "s—house defense.")
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels so she would keep quiet about an alleged act of executive outreach with Trump in 2006. Cohen responds that "President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels." So that settles THAT.
A congressional squabble shuts down the federal government for three days, but what with the intense media focus on the s—hole and porn star issues, hardly anybody notices.
In non-s—hole news, the residents of Hawaii experience an exciting Saturday morning when they receive the following message on their phones from the state's Emergency Management Agency: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." Hawaii's governor, David Ige, is quickly informed that it's a false alarm, but 17 extremely tense minutes go by before he gets the word out on social media. Asked later about the delay, he says — we are not making this quote up — "I have to confess that I don't know my Twitter account logons and the passwords." This statement arouses powerful feelings of longing among high-level Trump advisers.
The fiasco leads to the resignation of the head of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, who immediately accepts a position as director of pet transportation for United Airlines.
In youth fads, the American Association of Poison Control Centers continues to receive reports of young people suffering ill effects from eating Tide detergent pods. Asked to explain why young people would persist in eating something that tastes terrible and makes them sick, an AAPCC spokesperson says, "As far as we can determine, it's because they're stupid."
Speaking of stupid, in …


… with yet another government shutdown looming, Congress, whose irresponsible spending practices have put the nation on the road to fiscal disaster, faces a choice. It can either:
1. Continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don't have, or
2. Not.
After much late-night drama, Congress agrees on a compromise deal under which it will continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don't have. This display of leadership solves the budget problem permanently until March, when Congress will once again tackle the complex problem of government spending.
But the big story in Washington is the hotly debated release by congressional Republicans of the so-called "Nunes memo," which, depending on which cable news network you listen to, either does or does not prove that the FBI, in its investigation of possible Russian influence on the 2016 election, abused the FISA process when it used the so-called "Steele dossier" — which was prepared by Fusion GPS, a research firm originally hired by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet, to investigate Trump, but dropped by that organization when Trump was nominated, then hired by an attorney for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, after which Fusion hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele as an investigator — to obtain a warrant to wiretap Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign who allegedly … Hey, wake up! This is important! Also there's a Democratic counter-memo!
On the Stormy Daniels front, Michael Cohen acknowledges that he did, in fact, pay $130,000 to the porn actress, but he used his own money and the Trump campaign had nothing to do with it and it was all totally legit. So that settles THAT.
In sports, the 2018 Winter Olympics get underway in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the historic Opening Ceremonies highlighted by the release of 25 doves, which are immediately shot down and consumed by the North Korean men's biathlon team.
In domestic sports, the Eagles defeat the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl, and huge crowds of joyous Philadelphia fans celebrate by destroying downtown Boston.
No, that would actually make sense. In fact the Philadelphia fans spend the night destroying their own city, then head home for a hearty breakfast of Tide Pods.
Speaking of classy behavior, in …


… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learns that President Trump has fired him when, during an official visit to Africa, he is ejected from his State Department plane at 35,000 feet.
No, seriously, Tillerson learns of his firing via a presidential tweet, which says: "Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!"
So midair ejection would actually have been more dignified.
Speaking of air travel: United Airlines, which received some unfortunate publicity in 2017 when it "reaccommodated" a 69-year-old man by dragging him, bleeding and screaming, off his flight, has an eventful week involving traveling dogs (these events actually happened):
• On Monday, a United attendant on a Houston-to-New York flight orders a passenger to stow a bag containing a French bulldog puppy, Kokito, in the overhead bin. This does not turn out well for Kokito.
• On Tuesday, a German shepherd named Irgo, whom United was supposed to fly to Kansas City, instead gets flown to … Japan! Meanwhile a Great Dane that United was supposed to fly to Japan winds up in Kansas City. It is probably a good thing that both of these breeds are too large for the overhead bin.
• On Thursday, a United flight from Newark to St. Louis is diverted when United realizes that a dog that was loaded onto the plane was supposed to go to Akron.
Responding to public outrage over these incidents, United Airlines issues an apology, but sends it to the wrong email address.
Speaking of incompetence: Congress averts yet another government shutdown by passing, with President Trump signing, a bill under which the government will — prepare to be shocked — spend a truly insane amount of money that it does not have. With the spending problem addressed, Washington then turns to more pressing matters, specifically the Stormy Daniels crisis, which escalates when Daniels files a lawsuit to invalidate her nondisclosure agreement on the grounds that Trump didn't sign it. This issue dominates the news cycle, especially on CNN, which puts Daniels's extremely outgoing lawyer, Michael Avenatti, on Full S—hole Rotation, which means he is featured on every CNN news program and also handles weather and sports updates.
Abroad, the Russian news agency Tass reports that Vladimir Putin, who campaigned on the theme "A Vote for Putin Is a Vote for Not Dying Under Mysterious Circumstances," has been declared the winner of the 2018 Russian presidential election, as well as, in the interest of efficiency, the 2024 and 2030 elections.
In entertainment news, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, seeking to atone for the 2017 envelope fiasco, return to the Academy Awards stage and triumphantly announce that the winner of the Oscar for best picture is "Gone With the Wind." Fortunately by then nobody is watching.
The fiascos continue in …


… when the abandoned Chinese space station Tiangong-1, which has been anxiously watched by scientists as its orbit decayed, plunges back to Earth and, in a worst-case outcome, fails to land on attorney Michael Avenatti, thus enabling him to continue appearing on CNN more often than the Geico gecko.
Meanwhile President Trump, faced with — among other problems — a continuing immigration crisis, increased Russian aggression in Syria and a looming trade war with China, launches a barrage of assault tweets at what is clearly the biggest threat to the nation: Trump is forced to back down when the retail giant threatens to suspend the White House's Amazon Prime membership and cancel delivery of a large order placed by the Defense Department, including six nuclear submarines, two aircraft carriers and a missile defense system with a five-star average rating from other nations. (Disclosure: Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In sports, Patrick Reed wins the Masters Tournament, prompting jubilant Eagles fans to celebrate by destroying what little is left of Philadelphia.
Responding to alleged Russian infiltration of Facebook and massive breaches of user data, the Senate Committee of Aging Senators Who Cannot Operate Their Own Cellphones Without the Assistance of Minions holds a hearing intended to answer such probing questions as:
• What IS Facebook, anyway?
• Where does it go when you turn off the computer?
• Is there a print version?
• Is Facebook the one with the video of a cat riding a dog?
• How the heck do you get a cat to do that, anyway?
Patiently attempting to answer these questions is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who wears a suit and tie and does a solid job of impersonating a regular human, except for not blinking and at one point having a tentacle emerge briefly from his left ear.
Abroad, the big news is a historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. In what observers see as a major breakthrough, Kim agrees to sign a letter of agreement explicitly acknowledging, for the first time, that he has exactly the same hairstyle as Bert, of Bert and Ernie.
In sports, Patrick Reed wins the Masters Tournament, prompting jubilant Eagles fans to celebrate by destroying what little is left of Philadelphia.
Speaking of celebrations, in …


… the biggest story by far is the wedding of American ex-actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who is in the direct line of succession to the British throne behind Prince Louis of Cambridge, who is behind Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, who is behind Prince George of Cambridge, who is behind Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is behind Charles, Prince of Wales, who is 70, but any year now could get his shot at becoming the anachronistic ceremonial figurehead of one of the world's most second-rate powers. With the stakes so high, the media giddiness level soars to Defcon 1; the wedding cake alone gets more media coverage than Africa and global climate change combined.
In other international developments, hopes for a summit meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Trump soar when North Korea releases three American prisoners, only to be dashed when North Korea refuses to accept, in exchange, Stormy Daniels. Later in the month hopes soar again when North Korea announces that, as a good-faith gesture, it has destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, only to be dashed again when satellite imagery of the explosion reveals that what the rogue nation actually blew up was a 2006 Hyundai Sonata with what a U.S. intelligence source describes as "really bald tires."
Meanwhile Trump announces that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 multination nuclear deal with Iran on the grounds that (1) it is deeply flawed and (2) he does not own any golf courses there.
In entertainment news, Roseanne Barr sends out a tasteless, idiotic tweet and immediately has her network show canceled, thereby illustrating a key difference between being a sitcom star and being president of the United States.
In sports, the wettest Kentucky Derby in history is won by the favorite horse, Justify, after the rest of the field is eaten by sharks.
Speaking of eating, in …


… President Trump flies to Quebec to attend the G-7 summit. Hopes that the meeting will produce a historic agreement on global climate change, or at least a nice group photo, are dashed when, during dinner, Trump becomes embroiled in a heated policy disagreement with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom over the issue of ketchup.
From Canada the president flies to Singapore for the on-again, off-again, now on-again historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. This meeting is more productive, ending with the two leaders signing a letter of agreement in which North Korea promises to think seriously about denuclearizing, in exchange for the formula for pumpkin spice latte.
On the domestic front, the president is forced to reverse his administration's policy on separating immigrant children from their parents in response to a widespread and passionate international outpouring of criticism from his wife, Melania. Trump insists, however, that he remains "as committed as ever to protecting our borders by building a purely imaginary wall."
In other domestic news, Sen. Chuck "The Human Bandwagon" Schumer, citing studies showing that every living American adult except Mitt Romney has tried pot, introduces a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and "create a massive bureaucracy tasked with wasting millions of dollars on things like bong-safety regulations." The legislation would also create a trust fund under which a percentage of the federal tax revenue raised from marijuana sales would be set aside specifically to buy Cheez-Its.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his decision to retire, creating an important opportunity for the nation's political leaders to demonstrate that, although the public might have a low opinion of them as a group, it is nowhere near low enough.
In sports, the World Cup soccer tournament opens in Moscow with a beaming Vladimir Putin looking on as the host Russian team coasts to a 5-0 victory over a Saudi Arabian team whose players appear distracted by the presence directly behind their bench of what the Russians insist is a "strictly ceremonial" tank.
Speaking of ceremony, in …


… President Trump continues to have exciting foreign-policy adventures, starting with a trip to Brussels for a NATO summit, which gets off to a rocky start but settles down once the president's advisers are able to communicate to him, via frantic hand signals, that NATO is actually our side. From there the president travels to Britain, where he has tea with the Queen and makes what he later tells the press is "a very generous offer, believe me, VERY generous" for the Crown Jewels.
Then it's on to Finland for a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin. At a news conference afterward, the president tells reporters that Putin — and if we can't trust Vladimir Putin, whom can we trust? — "strongly" denies interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump adds that he, personally, sees no reason why Russia would interfere. This comes as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community and pretty much everybody else with the IQ of cottage cheese or higher. After a firestorm of criticism, Trump clarifies his remarks, explaining that he actually meant to say that he sees no reason why Russia WOULDN'T interfere. Thus the pesky issue of the 2016 election is finally laid to rest.
In domestic news, the president nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Accepting the nomination, Kavanaugh says: "If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to give full and fair consideration to every case brought before me. Also every keg." For their part, Senate Democrats release a statement promising to "consider Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications in good faith and with open minds," adding, "obviously we are lying."
In state news, Colorado state legislators, fired up by the Chuck Schumer decriminalization bill, unanimously vote to legalize marijuana, only to be informed that marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012. After enjoying a hearty laugh, the legislators unanimously vote to order 300 large pizzas.
Meanwhile Seattle becomes the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils in all restaurants. San Francisco, sensing a threat to its status as front-runner in the Progressivelympics, responds by banning food and beverages in all restaurants.
In financial news, Facebook stock drops more than $100 billion in a single day — the greatest single-day loss in stock-market history — after the company releases a quarterly report revealing that many people have trouble distinguishing between the "wow" emoji and the "sad" emoji. Despite this setback Facebook is still worth way more than General Motors and most other American companies that make actual things.
In sports, France defeats Croatia to win the World Cup. Jubilant Eagles fans, with nothing left in Philadelphia to destroy, lay waste to Delaware.
Speaking of defeats, in …


… a Virginia jury finds former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of tax evasion, bank fraud and having a name that can be rearranged to spell "Fart Upon Lama." Only minutes later, Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleads guilty in New York to various charges, including arranging hush-money payments in 2016 to Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal "at the direction of a candidate for federal office" who is not named but was obviously Bernie Sanders.
No, seriously, the candidate was obviously Trump. Some of the hush money was reportedly paid by the company that owns the National Enquirer at the direction of its CEO, whose name — we swear we are not making this up — is David Pecker (which can be rearranged to spell "David Pecker").
The Manafort-Cohen story gets massive coverage on CNN and MSNBC, with hordes of joyful panelists celebrating the now-inevitable impeachment of Trump by dancing around the studio singing "Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead." For its part, Fox News presents a timely investigative series on preventing salamander-transmitted diseases.
A Virginia jury finds former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of tax evasion, bank fraud and having a name that can be rearranged to spell "Fart Upon Lama."
In a coordinated nationwide response to Trump's repeated attacks on the press, sternly worded editorials rebuking the president are published in more than 300 newspapers, with a combined editorial-page readership estimated at nearly 14 people. For his part, CNN's Jim Acosta courageously confronts White House press secretary Sarah Sanders over this issue, despite the very real risk that he will have to feature himself prominently in his report on this harrowing incident.
In business news, Apple becomes the first publicly traded U.S. company to be worth $1 trillion, thanks to its shrewd business model of constantly coming out with costly new products that require costly chargers that are completely different from all the costly Apple chargers you already have, and sometimes spontaneously mutate overnight in such a way as to require even newer and costlier Apple chargers.
Speaking of electricity, in …


… Washington is atingle with a level of excitement that can only result from a clash of two high-voltage personalities: Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both having served in the Senate since shortly before the Big Bang. The committee holds two hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the second devoted to explosive allegations contained in a letter that was delivered back in July to Feinstein, who, what with one thing and another, failed to mention it until September. The nation watches, riveted, as committee members hear more than seven hours of emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, at the end of which the nation has learned the following facts:
1. The senators have no idea what, if anything, actually happened.
2. Nor do they care.
3. The truth is utterly irrelevant to them.
4. They all decided long ago how they were going to vote, based entirely on political calculations.
5. Given exactly the same testimony but different political circumstances, every single senator would passionately espouse the position diametrically opposite the one he or she is passionately espousing now.
6. Brett Kavanaugh really likes beer.
In other political news, the New York Times publishes an anonymous op-ed allegedly written by a "senior administration official" who is harshly critical of President Trump. Despite intense pressure, the Times refuses to reveal the author's identity, although linguistics experts see a possible clue in the fact that the column twice refers to Trump as "my husband."
Meanwhile the president addresses the United Nations General Assembly, declaring that his administration "has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country." The audience reacts with laughter, which the president's advisers assure him is how world leaders traditionally show respect. Fox News confirms this.
In sports, Tiger Woods wins the PGA Tour Championship, his first tour win since 2013. The Maryland National Guard is called out to defend Baltimore from the advancing army of jubilant Eagles fans.
Speaking of wins, in …


… the Senate approves the Kavanaugh nomination by a vote of 50 to 48, with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski voting "present" and Chuck Schumer voting "extra cheese."
The New York Times, in a major investigative story, asserts that Donald Trump amassed much of his fortune through "dubious tax schemes," including a $723 million deduction in 1993 for what was described in Trump's federal tax return as "croissants." Trump denounces the Times story as FAKE NEWS, asserting that the deduction "was actually for a range of pastries." Fox News confirms this.
In other executive action, the president hosts Kanye West in the Oval Office, where the rapper/producer/entrepreneur engages in a freewheeling, wide-ranging exchange of views with himself, then inadvertently launches a nuclear strike against Portugal before returning to his home dimension. The president also finds time in his schedule to initiate a Twitter beef with Stormy Daniels by referring to her in a tweet as "Horseface." Daniels responds with a tweet mocking the "Tiny" size of the president's legacy. This exchange dominates several news cycles but, incredibly, does not prove to be the low point of the month.
Tension mounts when explosive devices are mailed to high-profile Trump critics, including Barack Obama and the Clintons. After an intensive nationwide manhunt, federal authorities arrest a man who has been living and driving around in a van plastered with images clearly broadcasting the message, "I AM A DANGEROUSLY CRAZY PERSON," but since he was doing this in South Florida nobody noticed.
An already bad month gets exponentially worse when a gunman shouting anti-Semitic epithets opens fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue. It is an atrocity so horrific, and so shocking, that nearly three minutes pass before people start using it as a club to bludgeon those with whom they disagree politically.
In sports, the nation rejoices as, for the ninth consecutive year, some team other than the New York Yankees wins the World Series. Atlanta is evacuated when troops are unable to halt the relentless advance of jubilant Eagles fans.
Speaking of looming menaces, in …


… the nation braces for what political analysts agree will be the most important midterm elections since the dawn of time. Voters prepare for the big day by binge-watching Netflix, because regular TV has turned into a gushing sewer of political attack ads apparently created by and for dimwitted 4-year-olds.
President Trump hits the campaign trail to warn voters that if Democrats are elected there will be nobody to protect the nation from a deadly caravan of alleged Hondurans moving relentlessly toward the U.S. border at approximately the speed of a senior golf foursome. This caravan, according to the president, contains gang members, diseases, diseased gang members, Middle Easterners, spies and diseased Middle Eastern spy gang members carrying what Trump claims — and Fox News confirms — is "a 200-foot-long atomic switchblade." U.S. troops head for the border, having been ordered there by the president, but only after he was informed by military advisers that the Rio Grande is too shallow for aircraft carriers.
For their part, the Democrats appeal to voters with a three-pronged message:
Prong One: The Democrats are the party of fairness, diversity and inclusion.
Prong Two: Anybody who disagrees with the Democrats about anything is Hitler.
Prong Three: But more racist.
The election goes smoothly, except of course in Florida, which should seriously consider outsourcing all of its government functions to a competent organization, such as Montana. As usual the most confused county in Florida is Broward — often called "the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency of counties" — which to this day is not 100 percent certain how it voted in Dewey vs. Truman.
Nationwide, however, it is clear the voters have given the Democrats control of the House while leaving the Republicans in control of the Senate, thereby guaranteeing that for the next two years Congress will accomplish nothing, which may well be what the voters intended.
The election goes smoothly, except of course in Florida, which should seriously consider outsourcing all of its government functions to a competent organization, such as Montana.
The day after the election Jeff Sessions resigns as attorney general upon learning that his office has been relocated, in what the White House describes as a "security measure," to the men's restroom of a Kwik Mart in Frederick, Md.
Meanwhile the ongoing saga that is "The Jim Acosta Story, Starring Jim Acosta as Jim Acosta" takes a thrilling turn when Jim gets into a dramatic struggle with a White House intern over a microphone. The Trump administration, always looking for ways to make a stupid situation even stupider, suspends Jim's press pass and releases a video that somebody apparently doctored to make it appear more violent by splicing in the shower scene from "Psycho."
Speaking of violence: The president, addressing the question of whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had knowledge of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate by agents of the Saudi government, releases a statement, which he apparently typed with his own thumbs, stating, "maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" So that settles THAT.
Abroad, intelligence satellite photographs reveal that 16 construction projects in North Korea — which the North Korean government claims are going to be Chipotle restaurants — in fact are missile bases. North Korea insists that these will be used "only for delivery orders."
In business news, Amazon, after a much-publicized nationwide search, announces that it will locate new headquarters in Arlington, Va., and New York City, in return for tax breaks, infrastructure improvements, four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and replacement of the Statue of Liberty with a 340-foot-tall statue of Jeffrey Bezos naked.
As Thanksgiving approaches, two turkeys — named Peas and Carrots — are summoned to the White House, where the president, in keeping with a lighthearted Washington tradition, appoints them to high-level posts in the Justice Department. Two days later he fires Peas over what insiders describe as "policy differences." Within minutes Peas is hired as a political analyst by MSNBC.
Meanwhile the American people observe the Thanksgiving holiday by reflecting on their many blessings, then assaulting each other over consumer electronic devices that are imperceptibly better than the ones they already have. While this is happening the federal government releases a report warning that climate change will have a catastrophic impact on the nation's future, but because of all the sweet Black Friday deals nobody notices.
The month concludes on a positive note as NASA's $850 million InSight space-probe lander, after a six-month interplanetary journey covering 301 million miles, touches down on the surface of Mars. It was supposed to go to Venus, but NASA used navigational data provided by United Airlines.
Speaking of mistakes, in …


… President Trump heads to Argentina for the Group of 20 summit, which consists of the G-7 nations plus Russia, China, India, Argentina, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, Indonesia, Microsoft, the Corleone family, Gryffindor and LeBron James. Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an effort to end the escalating trade war, which is caused by China deliberately making cheap products that Americans want to buy. The two leaders reach an agreement under which Trump will hold off on imposing $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods, in return for which China will purchase a new Chevy Volt, nearly doubling that vehicle's annual worldwide sales. In response, the Dow Jones industrial average soars, only to plunge again when financial analysts learn that China declined the premium-floor-mat option.
On the ever-changing personnel front, Trump announces that his nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general is "an excellent lawyer, I forget his name at the moment, but he's terrific, believe me." Fox News confirms this. To replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador the president chooses Heather Nauert, but only after his advisers are able to convince him that Katniss Everdeen is a fictional character. Replacing John Kelly as White House chief of staff is Wayne Newton.
Meanwhile in a devastating blow to the U.S. humor industry, Michael Avenatti announces that he will not run for president. His departure narrows the potential Democratic field to pretty much every Democratic politician ever, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, somebody called "Beto" and the late Hubert Humphrey, all of whom believe Trump will be vulnerable in 2020, as confidently predicted by the many expert political observers who also confidently predicted Hillary Clinton's presidency.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency attempts to broadcast a text warning, but because of what an agency spokesperson says is "human error," the message actually sent to all of the state's residents reads HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Fueling this confidence are reliable rumors swirling around Washington that special counsel Robert Mueller is about to do some major thing that, while not specified in the rumors, will definitely mean the downfall of Trump and THIS TIME IT IS REALLY HAPPENING, PEOPLE. In anticipation of this event, CNN unveils a special panelist desk that is the length of a regulation basketball court, providing the capability to have an unprecedented 170 panelists sitting side-by-side expressing outrage simultaneously, and bringing CNN one step closer to the day when it has more panelists than actual viewers.
All this happens as congressional Democrats prepare to take control of the House of Representatives, where they plan to implement an ambitious agenda focused on the No. 1 concern of the American people, which of course is …
The 2016 elections!
Meanwhile tension continues to build along the U.S.-Mexico border as American troops, originally deployed to protect the United States from the Honduran Death Caravan of Doom, are ordered to turn around and attempt to stop the vast horde of jubilant Eagles fans surging southward from what is left of San Diego.
In a disturbing display of U.S. vulnerability to cyberattacks, Russian hackers briefly gain control of NOEL666, the supercomputer that churns out the hundreds of virtually identical Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, and cause it to broadcast a movie titled "You Better Watch Out," in which the male and female lead actors, instead of falling in love and getting married, become psychotic from eating tainted fruitcake and savagely murder their entire village with sharpened candy canes.
In a more positive story, NASA's interplanetary InSight lander proves to be a technological success and an inspiration to all Americans, distracting us from our petty political squabbles and uniting us in admiration of the stunning pictures it transmits back to Earth from the Martian surface, including a remarkably clear image of what a NASA spokesperson says "appears to be a large mound of uncounted ballots from Broward County, Florida."
The month ends on a troubling note when one of North Korea's newly constructed Chipotle restaurants launches a ballistic missile carrying what military analysts say is a three-ton tactical beef burrito, which travels 4,600 miles before splashing into the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Oahu, producing a tidal wave containing potentially dangerous levels of tomatillo chile salsa. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency attempts to broadcast a text warning, but because of what an agency spokesperson says is "human error," the message actually sent to all of the state's residents reads HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Here's hoping that the wish expressed by this erroneous HEMA message comes true. We would truly love for 2019 to be a happy year. Or at least a better year than 2018 was. It has to be better, right? How could it possibly be worse?
Please, put down the Tide Pod.
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author.
--   Sent from my Linux system.