Navigium Isidis: the festival of Isis in Rome

March 5 was the date of an annual, ancient Roman, nautical religious festival called Navigium Isidis, literally “Vessel of Isis”, which was dedicated to Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess who had been reinterpreted by and for the Greco-Roman world. In the Roman Empire, Isis was identified with various Greek and Roman goddesses, such as Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis, Tyche, and Fortuna. These complex theological associations were often expressed pictorially, and she was occasionally depicted as a syncretistic deity with the attributes and iconography of one or more of these goddesses. Along…

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Air Sinai: the ghost airline that has linked Cairo and Tel Aviv for decades

A flght from Cairo to Tel Aviv is a 50-minute flight on a clear day. But if you’ll book your ticket, when you’ll arrive to the airport, probably you’ll not find the gate, because It is not posted on the screen, and so you’ll have to ask someone where to go. Then, when you’ll find the gate there will be no sign that said this is Tel Aviv. Eventually, you’ll jump onto a bus that took you and the other passengers to a far corner of the tarmac, where a…

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Who wouldn’t want a highway bridge literally 50 centimeters from his window?

Few days ago, authorities in Cairo, Egypt, have come under fire for approving the construction of an “essential” highway bridge in Al-Haram district, right next to several apartment buildings on Nasr El-Din Street. And if we say “right next to”, we mean that in the most literal sense, as the bridge is just 50 centimetres away from people’s homes. However, in a surprising reply, authorities announced that the bridge had all the necessary permits, and that it was the residential buildings that had been built without a permit. Therefore, an…

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#February 16, 1923: A deadly bite, or King Tut’s revenge?

Cairo, Egypt. February 16, 1923, and a discovery that would have made Indiana Jones himself envious: archaeologist Howard Carter opened the sealed doorway leading to the burial chamber and sarcophagus of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Just a few weeks earlier, after making a “tiny breach” in the top left hand corner of the tomb doorway, he was asked by his patron Lord Carnarvon if he could see anything. Howard replied: “Yes, wonderful things” and added: “As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of…

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Ramesses II: the first (and probably the last) mummy to receive a passport!

Ramesses II is often considered the greatest pharaohs of ancient Egypt: he reigned for over 60 years and his achievements were not matched by the pharaohs who preceded or succeeded him. And, even after death, Ramesses II continued to be unique. How do you move a mummy over 3,000 years old from one country to another? In Ramesses’ case, in 1974, his remains were equipped with a valid passport of Egyptian nationality! It all began in 1974, when Egyptologists working for the Egyptian Museum in Cairo noticed that the pharaoh’s…

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Onions in the Middle Ages were so precious that they were used also as money!

How many tears are shed by peeling an onion? Despite this little drawback, the use of the onion is normal, both for the taste that ensures in countless recipes, and for the benefits it brings to health. The onion has been used as a food for millennia, although modern archeologists, botanists and historians are unable to determine exact time and place of their first cultivations, because this vegetable is perishable and its cultivation leaves little to no trace. However, some written records enables us to paint a very interesting picture…

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The macabre egyptian “Voodoo” Doll, dated back about 3rd-4th Century AD

A binding spell is a magical formula intended to “bind” or restrain a person’s will or behavior. Examples of binding spells include love spells, attempts to silence enemies, or any other magic intended to force or restrain the behavior or actions of another person. Many binding spells involve the use of knots, pins, or other symbolic restraints. In most ancient spells, it is spirits or ghosts who are symbolically “bound” until they fulfill the demands of the spell caster. The binding spell is probably one of the oldest types of…

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Colossi of Memnon: the huge statues that sang at dawn

Standing on the west bank of the Nile, opposite today’s Luxor, two huge stone statues with a few disquieting appearance have been observing for millennia the slow flow of the river, with its gaze turned towards the rising sun: they are the Colossi of Memnon. The twin statues depict the pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt during the Dynasty XVIII, about 3,400 years ago. The sovereign is depicted in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards towards the river sacred to the…

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3.500 years ago the Ancient Egyptians used an effective Pregnancy Test!

At the University of Copenhagen in Denmark there is a unique collection of Ancient Egyptian papyrus manuscripts. A large part of the collection has not yet been translated and still unpublished. There are texts about medicine, botany, astronomy, astrology, and other sciences practiced in Ancient Egypt. When you hear about the history of science, the focus is often on the Greek and Romans, but Egyptians goes much further back, in fact one of these medical texts was written 3,500 years ago when there was no written material on the European…

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Mummies of Cats and Scarabs: New Surprising Discoveries from Ancient Egypt!

Minister of Antiquities Dr. Khaled El-Enany announced some days ago a new discovery made by an Egyptian archaeological mission during excavation work carried out since April until now at the area located on the stony edge of King Userkaf pyramid complex in Saqqara Necropolis. Although it has been known for a long time that for the Egyptians cats were sacred, and they were routinely mummified and even bred for this purpose, to be faced with dozens of mummies of cats, buried inside a tomb dating back to 4500 years ago…

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