‏إظهار الرسائل ذات التسميات Knowledge_Truth. إظهار كافة الرسائل
‏إظهار الرسائل ذات التسميات Knowledge_Truth. إظهار كافة الرسائل

1/03/2014

11 Things You May Not Know About Ancient #Egypt

Ancient Egypt stood as one of the world’s most advanced civilizations for nearly 3,000 years and created a culture so rich that it has spawned its own field of study. But while Egyptian art, architecture and burial methods have become enduring objects of fascination, there is still a lot you probably don’t know about these famed builders of the pyramids. From the earliest recorded peace treaty to ancient board games, find out 11 surprising facts about the Gift of the Nile.
1. Cleopatra was not Egyptian.
Cleopatra
Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Along with King Tut, perhaps no figure is more famously associated with ancient Egypt than Cleopatra VII. But while she was born in Alexandria, Cleopatra was actually part of a long line of Greek Macedonians originally descended from Ptolemy I, one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted lieutenants. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt from 323 to 30 B.C., and most of its leaders remained largely Greek in their culture and sensibilities. In fact, Cleopatra was famous for being one of the first members of the Ptolemaic dynasty to actually speak the Egyptian language.

2. The ancient Egyptians forged one of the earliest peace treaties on record.

Hittite Peace Treaty
Giovanni Dall'Orto/Wikimedia Commons
For over two centuries the Egyptians fought against the Hittite Empire for control of lands in modern day Syria. The conflict gave rise to bloody engagements like 1274 B.C.’s Battle of Kadesh, but by time of the pharaoh Ramses II neither side had emerged as a clear victor. With both the Egyptians and Hittites facing threats from other peoples, in 1259 B.C. Ramses II and the Hittite King Hattusili III negotiated a famous peace treaty. This agreement ended the conflict and decreed that the two kingdoms would aid each other in the event of an invasion by a third party. The Egyptian-Hittite treaty is now recognized as one of the earliest surviving peace accords, and a copy can even be seen above the entrance to the United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York.

3. Ancient Egyptians loved board games.

Egyptian Board Games
Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis
After a long day’s work along the Nile River, Egyptians often relaxed by playing board games. Several different games were played, including “Mehen” and “Dogs and Jackals,” but perhaps the most popular was a game of chance known as “Senet.” This pastime dates back as far as 3500 B.C. and was played on a long board painted with 30 squares. Each player had a set of pieces that were moved along the board according to rolls of dice or the throwing sticks. Historians still debate Senet’s exact rules, but there is little doubt of the game’s popularity. Paintings depict Queen Nefertari playing Senet, and pharaohs like Tutankhamen even had game boards buried with them in their tombs.

4. Egyptian women had a wide range of rights and freedoms.

Egyptian women
DEA/A. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images
While they may have been publicly and socially viewed as inferior to men, Egyptian women enjoyed a great deal of legal and financial independence. They could buy and sell property, serve on juries, make wills and even enter into legal contracts. Egyptian women did not typically work outside the home, but those who did usually received equal pay for doing the same jobs as men. Unlike the women of ancient Greece, who were effectively owned by their husbands, Egyptian women also had the right to divorce and remarry. Egyptian couples were even known to negotiate an ancient prenuptial agreement. These contracts listed all the property and wealth the woman had brought into the marriage and guaranteed that she would be compensated for it in the event of a divorce.

5. Egyptian workers were known to organize labor strikes.

Egyptian labor strike
Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Even though they regarded the pharaoh as a kind of living god, Egyptian workers were not afraid to protest for better working conditions. The most famous example came in the 12th century B.C. during the reign of the New Kingdom pharaoh Ramses III. When laborers engaged in building the royal necropolis at Deir el-Medina did not receive their usual payment of grain, they organized one of the first recorded strikes in history. The protest took the form of a sit-in: The workers simply entered nearby mortuary temples and refused to leave until their grievances were heard. The gamble worked, and the laborers were eventually given their overdue rations.

6. Egyptian pharaohs were often overweight.

Egyptian pharaohs
rob koopman/Wikimedia Commons
Egyptian art commonly depicts pharaohs as being trim and statuesque, but this was most likely not the case. The Egyptian diet of beer, wine, bread and honey was high in sugar, and studies show that it may have done a number on royal waistlines. Examinations of mummies have indicated that many Egyptian rulers were unhealthy and overweight, and even suffered from diabetes. A notable example is the legendary Queen Hatshepsut, who lived in the 15th century B.C. While her sarcophagus depicts her as slender and athletic, historians believe she was actually obese and balding.

7. The pyramids were not built by slaves.

Egyptian Pyramids
Peter M. Wilson/Corbis
The life of a pyramid builder certainly wasn’t easy—skeletons of workers commonly show signs of arthritis and other ailments—but evidence suggests that the massive tombs were built not by slaves but by paid laborers. These ancient construction workers were a mix of skilled artisans and temporary hands, and some appear to have taken great pride in their craft. Graffiti found near the monuments suggests they often assigned humorous names to their crews like the “Drunkards of Menkaure” or the “Friends of Khufu.” The idea that slaves built the pyramids at the crack of a whip was first conjured by the Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C., but most historians now dismiss it as myth. While the ancient Egyptians were certainly not averse to keeping slaves, they appear to have mostly used them as field hands and domestic servants.

8. King Tut may have been killed by a hippopotamus.

King Tut hippopotamus
Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis
Surprisingly little is known about the life of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen, but some historians believe they know how he died. Scans of the young king’s body show that he was embalmed without his heart or his chest wall. This drastic departure from traditional Egyptian burial practice suggests that he may have suffered a horrific injury prior to his death. According to a handful of Egyptologists, one of the most likely causes for this wound would have been a bite from a hippopotamus. Evidence indicates that the Egyptians hunted the beasts for sport, and statues found in King Tut’s tomb even depict him in the act of throwing a harpoon. If the boy pharaoh was indeed fond of stalking dangerous game, then his death might have been the result of a hunt gone wrong.

9. Some Egyptian doctors had specialized fields of study.

Egyptian doctors
Blaine Harrington III/Corbis
An ancient physician was usually a jack-of-all-trades, but evidence shows that Egyptian doctors sometimes focused on healing only one part of the human body. This early form of medical specialization was first noted in 450 B.C. by the traveler and historian Herodotus. Discussing Egyptian medicine, he wrote, “Each physician is a healer of one disease and no more…some of the eye, some of the teeth, some of what pertains to the belly.” These specialists even had specific names. Dentists were known as “doctors of the tooth,” while the term for proctologists literally translates to “shepherd of the anus.”

10. Egyptians kept many animals as pets.

Egyptians pets
The Art Archive/Corbis
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The Egyptians saw animals as incarnations of the gods and were one of the first civilizations to keep household pets. Egyptians were particularly fond of cats, which were associated with the goddess Bastet, but they also had a reverence for hawks, ibises, dogs, lions and baboons. Many of these animals held a special place in the Egyptian home, and they were often mummified and buried with their owners after they died. Other creatures were specially trained to work as helper animals. Egyptian police officers, for example, were known to use dogs and even trained monkeys to assist them when out on patrol.

11. Egyptians of both sexes wore makeup.

Egyptians makeup
The Art Archive/Corbis
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Vanity is as old as civilization, and the ancient Egyptians were no exception. Both men and women were known to wear copious amounts of makeup, which they believed gave them the protection of the gods Horus and Ra. These cosmetics were made by grinding ores like malachite and galena into a substance called kohl. It was then liberally applied around the eyes with utensils made out of wood, bone and ivory. Women would also stain their cheeks with red paint and use henna to color their hands and fingernails, and both sexes wore perfumes made from oil, myrrh and cinnamon. The Egyptians believed their makeup had magical healing powers, and they weren’t entirely wrong: Research has shown that the lead-based cosmetics worn along the Nile actually helped stave off eye infections.
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4/13/2013

Sleeping with the Enemy

What happened between the Neanderthals and us?


The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, is a large, mostly glass building shaped a bit like a banana. The institute sits at the southern edge of the city, in a neighborhood that still very much bears the stamp of its East German past. If you walk down the street in one direction, you come to a block of Soviet-style apartment buildings; in the other, to a huge hall with a golden steeple, which used to be known as the Soviet Pavilion. (The pavilion is now empty.) In the lobby of the institute there’s a cafeteria and an exhibit on great apes. A TV in the cafeteria plays a live feed of the orangutans at the Leipzig Zoo.
Svante Pääbo heads the institute’s department of evolutionary genetics. He is tall and lanky, with a long face, a narrow chin, and bushy eyebrows, which he often raises to emphasize some sort of irony. Pääbo’s office is dominated by a life-size model of a Neanderthal skeleton, propped up so that its feet dangle over the floor, and by a larger-than-life-size portrait that his graduate students presented to him on his fiftieth birthday. Each of the students painted a piece of the portrait, the over-all effect of which is a surprisingly good likeness of Pääbo, but in mismatched colors that make it look as if he had a skin disease.
At any given moment, Pääbo has at least half a dozen research efforts in progress. When I visited him in May, he had one team analyzing DNA that had been obtained from a forty- or fifty-thousand-year-old finger bone found in Siberia, and another trying to extract DNA from a cache of equally ancient bones from China. A third team was slicing open the brains of mice that had been genetically engineered to produce a human protein.
In Pääbo’s mind, at least, these research efforts all hang together. They are attempts to solve a single problem in evolutionary genetics, which might, rather dizzyingly, be posed as: What made us the sort of animal that could create a transgenic mouse?
The question of what defines the human has, of course, been kicking around since Socrates, and probably a lot longer. If it has yet to be satisfactorily resolved, then this, Pääbo suspects, is because it has never been properly framed. “The challenge is to address the questions that are answerable,” he told me.
Pääbo’s most ambitious project to date, which he has assembled an international consortium to assist him with, is an attempt to sequence the entire genome of the Neanderthal. The project is about halfway complete and has already yielded some unsettling results, including the news, announced by Pääbo last year, that modern humans, before doing in the Neanderthals, must have interbred with them.
Once the Neanderthal genome is complete, scientists will be able to lay it gene by gene—indeed, base by base—against the human, and see where they diverge. At that point, Pääbo believes, an answer to the age-old question will finally be at hand. Neanderthals were very closely related to modern humans—so closely that we shared our prehistoric beds with them—and yet clearly they were not humans. Somewhere among the genetic disparities must lie the mutation or, more probably, mutations that define us. Pääbo already has a team scanning the two genomes, drawing up lists of likely candidates.
“I want to know what changed in fully modern humans, compared with Neanderthals, that made a difference,” he said. “What made it possible for us to build up these enormous societies, and spread around the globe, and develop the technology that I think no one can doubt is unique to humans. There has to be a genetic basis for that, and it is hiding somewhere in these lists.”
Pääbo, who is now fifty-six, grew up in Stockholm. His mother, a chemist, was an Estonian refugee. For a time, she worked in the laboratory of a biochemist named Sune Bergström, who later won a Nobel Prize. Pääbo was the product of a lab affair between the two, and, although he knew who his father was, he wasn’t supposed to discuss it. Bergström had a wife and another son; Pääbo’s mother, meanwhile, never married. Every Saturday, Bergström would visit Pääbo and take him for a walk in the woods, or somewhere else where he didn’t think he’d be recognized.
“Officially, at home, he worked on Saturday,” Pääbo told me. “It was really crazy. His wife knew. But they never talked about it. She never tried to call him at work on Saturdays.” As a child, Pääbo wasn’t particularly bothered by the whole arrangement; later, he occasionally threatened to knock on Bergström’s door. “I would say, ‘You have to tell your son—your other son—because he will find out sometime,’ ” he recalled. Bergström would promise to do this, but never followed through. (As a result, Bergström’s other son did not learn that Pääbo existed until shortly before Bergström’s death, in 2004.)
From an early age, Pääbo was interested in old things. He discovered that around fallen trees it was sometimes possible to find bits of pottery made by prehistoric Swedes, and he filled his room with potsherds. When he was a teen-ager, his mother took him to visit the Pyramids, and he was entranced. He enrolled at Uppsala University, planning to become an Egyptologist.

4/04/2013

Egypt’s #Coptic Christians must be protected from sectarian violence #Egypt


A rise in tensions between religious communities in the town of Wasta, about one hundred kilometres south of Cairo, in recent weeks highlights the failure of the Egyptian authorities to protect Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the country.
Tensions were sparked in February when a local Muslim young woman was reported “missing” and members of her family and local Salafis – Sunni Muslims who advocate a return to what they consider to be Islam's fundamental principles as practiced by the first Muslims – blamed the Mar-Girgis Church, claiming they had influenced the woman to convert to Christianity – an allegation the Church denies.
People in the town went out on the streets calling for the return of the woman or the departure of the Coptic Christian community from Wasta.
It is high time for the authorities to take sectarian violence and threats seriously. Time and time again, President Morsi claimed to be President of all Egyptians. Now, he needs to take action to ensure that sectarian violence is prevented and when it occurs it is properly investigated, and those responsible face justice.

In some of the protests, shouts of “let the Christian die from fear”, “today your sister, tomorrow your wife” and “she returns or they (Coptic Christians) leave” were heard.
Local residents told Amnesty International that leaflets are being distributed at the market, the public transport rank, and outside stores owned by Christians highlighting Muslims’ religious duty to stand-up against the woman’s alleged disappearance.
Discrimination and violence
According to local residents, violence escalated further between 19 and 25 March, when groups of men believed to be Salafis and their supporters forced all Christian stores and other businesses to close. They then patrolled the area to ensure they stayed shut and became violent with anyone who resisted.
A restaurant owner told Amnesty International that on 20 March, at around 6pm, some 15 men carrying sticks entered his restaurant whilst clients were inside, ordering its closure. Larger groups of men waited outside, while others entered other Christian businesses on the street also ordering they shut.
Local residents said security forces failed to intervene and that, in most cases, police stations refused to register complaints. One resident told Amnesty International that the head of the Security Directorate and the head of the General Security Investigations told him that filing complaints would only serve to ignite tensions further, advising him to pursue the reconciliation route.
As days progressed, the situation deteriorated.
On 25 March, after evening prayers, a large group of Muslim men walked to the Mar-Girgis Church and threw stones and Molotov cocktails inside the building. Some of the church employees who were there at the time managed to contain the fire.
Members of the security forces arrived at the scene shortly after and managed to halt the violence.
That night, the car of a local priest Father Shenouda Sabry was set on fire while parked outside his home. Other cars parked near-by were left untouched.
However, according to information available, no arrests have been made and no investigation established to find out who was responsible.
“Coptic Christians across Egypt face discrimination in law and practice and have been victims of regular sectarian attacks while authorities systematically look the other way,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
Later on 25 March, Coptic Christian and Muslim elders held a “reconciliation meeting”.
It was agreed that businesses run by Coptic Christians could reopen save Fridays.
However, Coptic Christians in Wasta were also warned that if the “missing” woman did not return by 24 April, they will face dire consequences.
A pattern of discrimination
Human rights organizations including Amnesty International have, over time, documented a pattern of discrimination against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Under Hosni Mubarak, at least 15 major attacks on Copts were documented and the situation didn’t improve under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which ruled the country between the downfall of Hosni Mubarak and the election of President Mohamed Morsi.
In 2013, Coptic Christian activists reported at least four attacks on Churches or affiliated buildings in addition to Wasta, taking place in the Governorates of Aswan, Beni Suef, Cairo, and Fayoum.
The authorities’ response to the violence has been poor, at best.
They have often favoured “reconciliation” over the prosecution of offenders as a way to address sectarian violence.
In addition, both Hosni Mubarak and the SCAF failed to end discriminatory practices preventing Copts from building or restoring houses of worship.
Churches have been closed or destroyed because the authorities alleged that the communities did not have the correct permissions to build or renovate. Presidential Decree 291/2005 makes repair or expansion of Christian churches subject to a permit from the regional governor. In some cases, this has reportedly been used by the local authorities to delay or impede the construction or repair of churches.
“It is high time for the authorities to take sectarian violence and threats seriously. The Egyptian authorities are responsible for ensuring the protection of people, their homes and livelihoods. Time and time again, President Morsi claimed to be President of all Egyptians. Now, he needs to take action to ensure that sectarian violence is prevented and when it occurs it is properly investigated, and those responsible face justice,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“By not prosecuting those responsible for sectarian violence, the Egyptian authorities are signalling Coptic Christians can be attacked with impunity”.
Egypt is a state party to a number of treaties which prohibit any forms of discrimination based on the grounds of religion including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2/24/2013

Protest Torture & Zero Dark Thirty


 

 

  "Zero never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal. It does portray torture as getting results."

Click here to download flyer to take to your local movie theater in protest. 

 

 

Click here for series of posters of Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release yet still unjustly held.

Here are some of the articles and opinion pieces outlining why people of conscience must take a stand against the justification and use of torture:

Instead of being indicted, these torturers are presented as heroes, as brave and dedicated “detectives.”  No one gives Maya or Dan the kind of scolding, which you envision Obama giving, off-screen.  Chastain’s Maya, is presented as especially admirable, a feminist action hero.  She not only gets her man; she also muscles CIA male chauvinists out of the way, as she pushes ahead on “The Greatest Manhunt in History.”  And we’re supposed to empathize and cheer her on.
On Zero Dark Thirty
by James Spione
That a movie which at its core is essentially a revenge flick—evil guy kills innocents, heroine stops at nothing to kill evil guy—is even being compared to journalism by its makers or anyone else says more about the sorry state of journalism today than it does about the film.
Torture in Zero Dark Thirty protested"The controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty has been as misguided as the film itself, which opened nationwide on Friday. Much of the debate has centered on whether The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow's latest opus leaves viewers with the false impression that torture led to the killing of Usama bin Laden. That both the means employed and the ends achieved in that equation are illegal and repugnant seems all but forgotten. Both torture and extrajudicial executions are anathema to civilized society, irrespective of their possible efficacy or expediency. More importantly, both the film and the controversy it has ignited treat torture at secret CIA prisons as though it were a thing of the past, masking the reality of an enduring practice."
"Bigelow, Boal, and Sony thus have portrayed the criticism of their film as censorship and wrapped themselves in the flag of free expression. But the opposition their film has sparked is not about censorship at all and their characterizing their critics as censorious is dishonest. People who oppose torture want torture to be shown to the American people. The fine 2007 film Rendition, for example, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon, showed torture and was appreciated by those of us who admire well-made films and oppose torture’s immorality and illegality."
"Those who are protesting the easy tolerance of torture in Zero Dark Thirty have been dismissed by some commentators as having a political agenda. The problem of torture is not political. It's moral. And it's criminal.
I'm a member of Hollywood's Motion Picture Academy. At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for Zero Dark Thirty - in any Academy Awards category."
"Extraordinary renditions apparently continue to this day.  These are secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to other countries where torture is used. Torture is torture whether it is done by Americans at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, or by proxy through our rendition program."
Martin Sheen, Ed Asner Join 'Zero Dark Thirty' Protest
Zero Dark Thirty Protest
Protest
Above, protesting at the opening of Zero Dark Thirty in NYC December 19, 2013
Dark, Zero-Feminism
by Zillah Eisenstein
"...the real problem with ZDT is that it lets the audience and the American public think that terrible things are allowable because they are doable.   A courageous telling of the U.S. anti-terror narrative would demand critique and defiance."
"By peddling the lie that CIA detentions led to Bin Laden's killing, you have become a Leni Riefenstahl-like propagandist of torture"
a critical choiceby Curt Wechsler
"The public "controversy" whipped up by release of the new torture movie Zero Dark Thirty is actually a re-hash of an argument that had largely been put to bed, that torture works to extract reliable intelligence from suspected terrorists (and even if it did, would that make the practice morally acceptable?) But torture IS effective in getting subjects to say what you want them to say, to fabricate rationale for government venture, such as the ultimate war crime of aggression on sovereign nations that pose no imminent threat."
Listen to Debra Sweet discuss the film on Flashpoints, KPFA (at 42:00 into the show).
Torture is Wrongby Debra Sweet
Torture, Torture Everywhere
by Andy Worthington


Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever from NRCAT on Vimeo.

2/23/2013

Pepsi 2012 #Illuminati Breakdown Super Bowl Commercial

Pepsi 2012 Illuminati Breakdown Super Bowl Commercial