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Thieves Find Cemetery of Pharaoh's Dentists

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the yank-like-an-egyptian dept.

129

junglee_iitk writes with news of an important archaeological find from Egypt. Grave robbers located a tomb and were arrested while digging; what they found turns out to be the graves of three dentists who took care of a Pharaoh's teeth. The graves are located in the shadow of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, said to be Egypt's oldest, and are around 4,000 years old. From the article: "Although archaeologists have been exploring Egypt's ruins intensively for more than 150 years, [a senior archaeologist] believes only 30 percent of what lies hidden beneath the sands has been uncovered." Yahoo has a few pictures of the dig.

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And yet... (5, Interesting)

GmAz (916505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549422)

Its also amazing how grave robbers seem to find all the good stuff before the archeologists.

Re:And yet... (3, Interesting)

viking099 (70446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549538)

I'm just glad the officials were able to nab the robbers before any damage was done or any items were stolen. Hopefully we can learn a bit more about how dental care was done in Egypt back then.

Re:And yet... (2, Funny)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 7 years ago | (#16551766)

That's a pretty funny joke. I can't imagine why you got modded 'Interesting' instead. Unless you and the mods actually want to know about how dental care was done in Egypt back then, in which case, my bad. I still think it's kind of funny, though. You know, in a "why couldn't they have raided the Egyptian Porn Stars' tombs" kind of way.

Re:And yet... (0, Offtopic)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552740)

...maybe they're British?

Re:And yet... (5, Informative)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549568)

There is a difference? The greatest discoveries in egypt were by "expert" grave robbers. E Wallis Budge (translator of the Dover edition Egyptian Book of the Dead) for example was one of the greatiest "aquisition agents" the British Museum ever deployed. Howard Carter of Tutankhamen fame was working for Lord Carnarvon on a private dig, not for a musem. The only difference betwene valid scientists in the past and grave robbers was the fancy title, and the better hotel accomodations at the Cairo Hilton..

E. Wallis Budge.....? (-1, Offtopic)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549616)

"E Wallis Budge (translator of the Dover edition Egyptian Book of the Dead)....and the better hotel accomodations at the Cairo Hilton.. "

Was that before or after his lucrative pr0n career, in which he found cozy accomodations at the Paris Hilton instead?

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

smilingman (942304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549886)

On the contrary. Since when have grave robbers documented their findings or even bothered to mark their provenance? Even the worst treasure-hunting archaeologists (and there were worse than Budge) did that. The difference between a tomb robber and even the worst archaeologist is huge, to say nothing of the difference between them and highly cautious and meticulous normal ones.

Re:And yet... (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550228)

its like the difference between a crime-scene investigator and a looter.

Re:And yet... (2, Insightful)

Colbalt Blue (915568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550868)

I would say it is more like the difference between a looter who leaves and IOU and a regular looter.

Re:And yet... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16551414)

They are still robbing graves though. Ok, document it, that's great and it's important to understand our history. Taking things out of someone's grave to display them somewhere else is robbery though, no matter how you slice it.

Re:And yet... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16551652)

Since when have grave robbers documented their findings or even bothered to mark their provenance?
They never really needed to.

Looted & 'legitimate' artifacts all ended up in either museums or private collections. Those buyers always had the items authenticated by experts anyways.

Re:And yet... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552100)

I would beg to differ, but I have no dog in the fight.

Re:And yet... (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552868)

Your argument is flawed for this case. These "grave robbers" were caught while digging, and so had no opportunity to report their findings. By your logic, the only difference between a "tomb robber" and an "archaeologist" is the documentation of findings, which means that the "grave robbers" involved in the article were neither.

Re:And yet... (5, Insightful)

curunir (98273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549946)

Not that I agree with removing any of the ancient Egyptian antiquities from Egypt, but there is a huge difference between removing them for display at a prominent museum like the British Museum and removing them to be sold on the black market such that they will likely never again be available to be seen by the public.

A good example of this is the mummy of Ramses I. If this had been pillaged by archaeologists on behalf of the British Museum, it would be in much better shape that it is currently. However, because it was unearthed by tomb robbers, it spent over 100 years at a museum in Niagra Falls with very little concern for maintaining it and absolutely no indication given to visitors that it was, in fact, the mummy of a Pharoah. An "expert" grave robber would have followed much a much more strict procedure to ensure that it was properly cared for and properly catalogued (if only to increase the value, but still).

That said, the Ramses I mummy did end up in Egypt, which almost makes up for the shoddy maintenance it received over the course of its post-excavation life (museums around the world should follow the example of the Carlos Museum at Emory University and return everything that was stolen from Egypt)...

I would take a slightly different line. (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552168)

Any stolen object that can be returned without damaging it further (sawing a stone column into three pieces isn't exactly quality care) AND which will be kept with an equal or greater standard of care should be returned otherwise unconditionally.


"But it belongs to (country)! Why should (some other country) keep it?" In the end, none of this "belongs" to a country. History cuurered everywhere at the same time. (Duh!) For the most part, the political boundaries that marked these countries no longer exist, the political entities have vanished into oblivion, no living direct descendents who could claim even a moral ownership are known to survive, so for the most part the only meaningful designation is "world heritage" (which I believe to not be used nearly enough and most definitely not recognized nearly enough).


So, if object X is being, or would very likely be, damaged by being in country Y, I believe country Y has lost all right to the ownership of object X. I don't like the fact that Britain has the Elgin Marbles, but I like even less the fact that they'd be destroyed by pollution if they were ever returned. The Greece of back then no longer exists, any more than the Egypt of the Pharaohes exists today. In some cases, there simply isn't a country in which an object is truly safe. In that case, you document every last facet like crazy and hope. (You can't move the Great Pyramid and you certainly can't hide it, though reducing pollution might cut down on the deterioration.)


But what makes something "world heritage"? The object itself? Usually no. Except in some rare cases, the object has no value in and of itself. For inorganic objects, it is the information the object posesses - from the chemical structure through to any symbols or writings on it, and the information associated with it - where it was made, when, how and why, where it was found, the nature of the site, other items found there and their respective characteristics and associations, and so on. These are the things that have any lasting meaning. Once you know the object - totally - you can always make another using exactly the same materials, tools and methods.


For organic objects, it's tougher. If a bone is damaged or destroyed, there is next to nothing you can do. And time is rarely kind to anything of organic nature. Tutankamun is in very bad shape now and the remains will probably not survive a whole lot longer. Part of that is due to Carter's team, but part is due to Egypt having very high levels of acidic pollution and acid rain. You can't expect much to survive under such brutal conditions.


The other problem with organics is that there's much less information you can obtain. With luck, you can extract mtDNA, maybe even use modelling to produce an impression of what the person looked like. Bodies found in peat bogs and ice fields give slightly more information, perhaps yielding clues of fashion, food and culture that artifacts alone can't. We learned a lot from "Pete Marsh" and the iron-age traveller murdered in the alps, but such finds are almost never in any kind of context, so there is very little you can do to connect them with what was happening at that time. "Pete Marsh" - Lindow Man - might date anywhere from prior to the Roman invasion to a hundred years after the Boudicca Rebellion, making it very hard to know what sort of context is involved.


Getting back to thieves vs. archaeologists - IMHO, it's not a binary thing. I would argue that the "absolute" thief is one who destroys information in search of money, even if that involves destroying the thing they're trying to find. (When archaeologists started paying money per fragment of Dead Sea Scroll recovered, some of the locals cut fragments up so that they could get more money.) I would argue that the "absolute" archaeologist obtains all information, even if that means never reaching the object. (We now have GPR scans of Edward the Confessor's tomb, but reaching it would destroy countless artifacts and could potentially destroy the chamber the tomb is in.)


Most modern archaeologists collect a lot of information - but certainly not all that they could - and there is certainly a lot of effort into collecting objects of monetary value over objects of informational importance, although modern archaeologists are very good about looking for information these days.


Not all thieves are destructive - some objects have simply lost all historic meaning, so taking the object really doesn't lose anything and potentially saves something that might easily have become damaged or destroyed. In England, the finding of anything made of more than a certain amount of silver or gold, or which has high historic importance, requires that the find be reported as Treasure Trove to the Government. I'd be willing to bet that far more than half of those who "despise" thieves would have absolutely zero guilt about pocketing a gold torc or a bag of iron-age solid-silver coins, particularly if it was obvious to all and sundry that this was a freak find, doubly so if reporting it would be a major inconvenience.


Would this be a bad thing? Probably not, unless there was something truly unique about the find. How many near-identical coins can you see in a museum before collapsing from boredom? And if there truly is nothing special in the find, nothing that could even remotely be usable to learn even one iota of information, then I really don't see this being an agonizing loss for all of humanity. The most it could be is a loss of potential revenue by the government.


(No, I'm not advocating going out, despoiling sites in search of treasure. That would be destructive theft. But such things have been washed out of hillsides in severe storms and will no doubt be again. In which case, I'd much rather someone - anyone - kept such finds safe than to leave them be as a source of too much grief.)

Re:And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16555334)

(museums around the world should follow the example of the Carlos Museum at Emory University and return everything that was stolen from Egypt)...

Yeah, sure, great idea. Let's take every artifact ever to come from one of the greatest cultures ever and put them all back into Egypt, thus making it easier for natural or manmade disasters to completely erase all traces of it.

Plus, of course we don't want people all over the world to see and learn about the culture with direct contact with its artifacts. No, of course not, at least not without flying to Egypt. That way we can ensure less and less interest in egypt and archaeology in general as we lock ancient egypt in that piece of shit corner of the world forever.

That is the most retarded idea ever.

Re:And yet... (2, Insightful)

gripen40k (957933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16555422)

This is funny 'cause I just wrote an essay on this. The difference is between anthropological archaeologists and non-anthropological archaeologists. The former cares about the culture in which the material remains were found, and will use those remains to gain incite into the workings of that culture. The latter cares about the material remains themselves, the tomb, the mummies, ect. They think the culture is neat, but what they really want to know about is what the item is and what is it worth. Not all were greedy, some wrote nice catalogues of what the items were before they sold them, but most didn't bother. Examples for the former were the Leakey family [wikipedia.org] (Rift Valley of East Africa), Edward Tylor [wikipedia.org] (way back in 1871 no less), and even Thomas Jefferson [wikipedia.org] (burial mounds in Virginia). The prime example of the latter would be Belzoni [wikipedia.org] in Egypt, an ex hydraulics engineer and circus strong-man from Italy :P

Re:And yet... (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549584)

It's easier to go through a lot of sites if you can use a bulldozer instead of a toothbrush (figuratively)

What an attitude (4, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549650)

"It's easier to go through a lot of sites if you can use a bulldozer instead of a toothbrush (figuratively)"

If I hear someone saying that through the office door in the waiting room at the dentist's, I'm out of there.

Re:And yet... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549628)

Think about the fact that thieves dont have to ask for permissions, dont have to look for a crew and dont have to follow the way archeologyst work (Harris matrix and so).

And, even more important, thieves have nothing to lose.

Re:And yet... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16551058)

So why do we keep hiring the archaeologists ?
Sounds like theese thieves have their shit together.

Re:And yet... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549636)

Yes, and a grave robber will also destroy a priceless artifact if it isn't shiny enough to sell easily.

Re:And yet... magazines... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549982)

...grave robbers seem to find all the good stuff...

Not counting all the old magazines from 1990 B.C. Geesh, this article about the delta flooding is at least five years older than the dig site...

Re:And yet... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16550202)

"Its also amazing how grave robbers seem to find all the good stuff before the archeologists."

I suspect that's a combination of -

a) more of them

b) better funded

c) no restrictions on where they can dig

d) less work involved (no need to preserve context)

Re:And yet... (1)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552326)

"Grave robbers "

After three thousand years, it isn't a grave, and it isn't robbing. If you want to contradict me, have the relatives of the dead give me a call.

Now, the archaeologists, THEY cleaned the places out in the 19th century.

Once again, it ain't stealin' if no one owns it. Just 'cause someone claims it doesn't mean they own it, either. Those tombs were emptied using political pressure, military occupation, and just plain thuggin' thievery by museums for the last couple of centuries. No one calls those Indy Jones thieves, although they sure as hell were. No one except that Kali Ma dude from movie two, yes, I know.

Re:And yet... (1)

rebel13 (973392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552478)

All i have to say is that even INDIANA JONES was accused of grave robbery. Repeatedly, in fact.

Re:And yet... (1)

Tisha_AH (600987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552530)

Graverobbing started fairly soon after the decline of Egyptian society. Archeology is graverobbing where you get to put your treasures in a museum and write about it. One of the most common items removed from sites has always been blocks and stones. These were reused for huts and even for the street paving stones in many cities. In the 1800's, the corpses of the dead (mummies) were even used as fuel for railroad trains as they were dessicated and burned with a good heat. Unfortunately the treasures that we gawk at in the museums today are the gold gilded funerary items. Lost forever are the painted scenes of everyday life that covered the walls, the small grooming impliments like brushes and combs. To see how ancient peoples led their everyday lives should be the lasting testament.

So ..? (0, Offtopic)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549424)

So they were grave digging of grave diggers? Why is this even in /.?

Hmmm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549452)

So they dugg and found a tumb? Wonder what slashdotting the desert can do...

Inscription warning... (1)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549460)

That led archaeologists to the three tombs, one of which included an inscription warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake...

Mummy, the crocodile returns!!!

Re:Inscription warning... (4, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549784)

That led archaeologists to the three tombs, one of which included an inscription warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake...

So let me get this straight... First the crocodile eats you and then is the crocodile eaten by the snake? Or does the crocodile spit you out first?

Re:Inscription warning... (4, Funny)

zero1101 (444838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549920)

So let me get this straight... First the crocodile eats you and then is the crocodile eaten by the snake? Or does the crocodile spit you out first?

Close...replace "spit" with a very similar word...

Re:Inscription warning... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552596)

You must be eaten by the snake first, then the crocodile eats the snake. Otherwise, if the snake eats the crocodile, the curse comes to a messy end [msn.com]

Of course, you could be required to eat every last part of both the snake and crocodile. That sounds the worst of all possible six combinations.

Re:Inscription warning... (2, Funny)

jbrader (697703) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550174)

The croc bites you up and takes all the big parts and the snake gets to finish up all your juicy bite-sized nuggets.

Re:Inscription warning... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553760)

The snake is in the crocodile. For that reason, the crocodile's eyes are glowing.

Re:Inscription warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549804)

Mummy, the crocodile returns!!!

But will it star Steve Irwin as the crocodile mummy?

I hand my head in shame.

Or if you're Steve Irwin... (1)

phatvw (996438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16554402)

... just shove a thumb up its arse. Blimey!

Moo (1, Funny)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549468)

three dentists who took care of a Pharaoh's teeth.

Of course, they only had the teeth because the thieves ancestors stole the rest of the body. They took them to court and cried "I want my mummy!", but for some reason the judge kept it under wraps.

They left just the teeth. That's got to bite.

What about the tooth fairy? (2, Funny)

luder (923306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549480)

Did they find her?

wouldn't that be the tooth phairy?? (1)

big-giant-head (148077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549516)

NM

Re:wouldn't that be the tooth phairy?? (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549706)

Not the Thoth Phairy?

But if you're going to fly there and find out, you'd better hurry: the Cheops close at 5:00. And make sure you check out the camels, they're without peer amid the mammals...

Re: your sig (1)

vox_soli (990736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550320)

John 3:16

2 Kings 2:23 [plainbible.com]

Re:What about the tooth fairy? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549596)

I believe you meant the tooth pharaoh.

Re:What about the tooth fairy? (1)

FingerDemon (638040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550588)

Open up and say, "Ra".

Re:What about the tooth fairy? (1)

Sri Ramkrishna (1856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552886)

I hear her name is Toothakhamen!

sri

We musts make preservation a priority (4, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549540)

If you do not support saving these remains, you must be some sort of anti-dentite.

Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549546)

Slashdotters are quick to point out that copying a CD is copyright infringement and not stealing. Same here: infringing the archeologists-get-it-first act is not theft, it's archeologists-get-it-first infringement.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549766)

It's not stealing, it's lost property - The original claimants are dead and no records of heredity exist to tie modern individuals to them. While the country claims that these are artifacts that belong to the people, ordinary things that are buried by people who later die are fair game.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (4, Insightful)

cultrhetor (961872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550080)

Yet Native American remnants - while not specifically tied to any particular individual - are accepted as cultural heritage and thus belong to the respective tribes. Why is this any different? Just because they are older remains does not mean that they don't belong to Egypt as a nation. I'm not trying to be difficult, just to raise a contextualizing situation.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (2, Interesting)

ahg (134088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550374)

"Yet Native American remnants - while not specifically tied to any particular individual - are accepted as cultural heritage and thus belong to the respective tribes. Why is this any different?"

In the US if you own the land, you own the sub-terranean rights (within limits). e.g. If you find a gold mine under your home, the gold is yours. As for the Native American artifacs - that's a special provision like gambling on their reserves. So as not to add insult to injury, there have been attempts made to "do the right thing" now that we've already chased them off land that was once theirs. Many Native American can trace their ancestery back to a particular tribe and it's a much more clear picture that they, as a group, should inherit tribal property.

As for Ancient Egypt - Even their enemies are long gone... The thousands of years in between do make a difference. The citizens of modern day Egypt are neither cultural hiers nor literal hiers ancient Egypt more so than any other people in the region.

While Egypt, as a sovereign nation, is certainly free to make reasonable propery laws and enforce them, and they should be followed by their citizens and guests in their country... I can see why others would consider it finders-keepers.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16551750)

In the US if you own the land, you own the sub-terranean rights (within limits). e.g. If you find a gold mine under your home, the gold is yours.
You ever read the property contract you signed?

You might not own the mineral (subsurface) rights for your land, since mineral rights are seperate from surface rights. Ditto for the air rights.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

ahg (134088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16555016)

yeah... I knew that. But in the simple case, or shall I say "Fee Simple" case, you own the entire "Bundle of Rights". Most single family residential homes are sold that way (at least in NJ). Of course it isn't always so. Take the New York City's Met-Life Building built over railroad tracks and and a street - they acquired air-rights to build it.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552096)

A couple points, firstly you don't own the land, just a set of property rights to it; frequently these rights don't include mineral rights. What is and isn't included in the rights you own can frequently keep lawyers employed for long periods. The Native Americans Tribes are generally considered sovereign nations and what we actually own property rights wise is often the result of treaties between the Tribe and the USG. I doubt many Tribes transfered title of the scared sites to the USG, at least not unless they were under extreme duress.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552250)

The citizens of modern day Egypt are neither cultural hiers nor literal hiers ancient Egypt more so than any other people in the region.
If I remember correctly, the closest heirs to the ancient Egyptians would be the Ethiopian members of the Coptic Church.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553702)

If I remember correctly, the closest heirs to the ancient Egyptians would be the Ethiopian members of the Coptic Church.

Minor nitpick: Egypt itself still has a sizable minority of Coptic Christians (most of the 10% who aren't Muslims, according to Wikipedia).

But otherwise you're dead on. The Coptic language, used for services in the Coptic church, is the direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian language.

To address the original poster's question, though, there are a number of reasons why modern Egyptians aren't going to complain about archaeologists and other official tomb robbers:

  1. Modern Egpyt earns a fair amount of money through tourism. You mess with archaeology, you might hurt tourism.
  2. Egyptians themselves have been robbing those graves for the past 5000 years.
  3. Modern Egyptians may be proud of ancient Egypt, but Muslim or Copt they all still think the ancient Egyptians were heathens. So no one has any sympathy for the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550222)

While I agree with the gyst of your argumentm, I would suggest that you not attempt using that line of reasoning after digging up a corpse in a cemetery in London, no matter how long it may have been buried.

Re:Obligatory digging-is-not-theft post (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550930)

It's unlikely that the grave robbers were the owners of the land in question. Presumably, much of this land belongs to the Egyptian state, or to private owners; in either case, this is no different from stealing a property from a house or government office.

Moreover, most countries have laws about what can and can't be done with ancient artifacts, which have a protected status analogous to that of endangered species. Saying it's "not stealing" and thus "fair game" is as specious saying it's okay to shoot an endangered animal on someone else's land since wild animals, unlike domestic ones, don't belong to anybody.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549562)

FTA
The tombs, which did not contain their mummies, were built of mud-brick and limestone, not the pure limestone preferred by ancient Egypt's upper class.

"The whole point of a tomb was to last forever," said Carol Redmount, associate professor of Egyptian archaeology at the University of California at Berkeley. "So you wanted to make it out of materials that would last forever. And mud-brick ... didn't last forever."


So, it's a story of how the lower quality beat the higher quality, even though they flatly deny that such a thing is possible. No wonder the thieves were arrested. Their discovery defies some ivory-tower's resident and must be abolished before physics itself fails. Woe to us all!

but they never mention the stingray.... (-1, Flamebait)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549582)

"one of which included an inscription warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake"

Crikey!
Steve Irwin, Toom Rydah! Danga danga danga!"

Dr. Zahi Hawass (3, Insightful)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549608)

Dr. Zahi Hawass is just so damn cool. And he has the coolest title too (Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities). I strongly recommend checking out his website [guardians.net] (broken English warning here).

Re:Dr. Zahi Hawass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549900)

I wouldn't consider him "so damn cool".

I remember watching him on several of the Egpypt specials that FOX had on perhaps five or six years ago. You know, the ones where they open some newly discovered Ancient Egyptian tomb for the first time, supposedly doing it "live" for FOX's cameras.

Basically every time he'd know exactly where to find the artifacts. He'd be able to give ages and dynasties, only seconds after initially "discovering" them.

Maybe they'd used ground-penetrating radar or other techniques (entering the tomb?) to map these locations. But otherwise, those specials always seemed extremely fishy to me. I have little trust for FOX's attempts to provide educational programming. I have even less trust for those academics and historians who willingly work with FOX on such specials. And I have basically no trust for those historians who manage to consistently pull off a perfect TV special: 58 minutes of commercials and junk filler programming, 1 minute to open the tomb live for the first time, and then 1 minute of speculation and marveling at the assured discovery of some relic. I'm suspicious about it all.

The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16549618)

It would be extremely interesting if a jar of ancient human semen were to be discovered.

With our modern techniques, we may be able to extract viable DNA from said sperm, and use it to fertilize an egg from a woman today.

While the ethics of doing so could be debated forever without a definitive conclusion, from strictly a scientific standpoint it would prove invaluable. We'd be able to directly analyze an individual who is, in essence, four millennia old. The immune system of this person would potentially be drastically different from ours today, so the research here would be particularly enlightening.

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (2, Interesting)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549756)

Except that the egg came from a modern woman, so I doubt we'd be able to learn a lot.

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550006)

Mods on crack again... this was not intended as a troll. It's a salient point in the discussion of the AC's idea.

Or maybe (as I suspected from the AC's post) much of /. doesn't realize that creating one person takes TWO contributions.

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550096)

"Or maybe (as I suspected from the AC's post) much of /. doesn't realize that creating one person takes TWO contributions"

No need for any of that ancient stuff. Two persons: a slashdotter and T'Pol.

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (0, Troll)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549856)

"It would be extremely interesting if a jar of ancient human semen were to be discovered."

Too lazy to scrape the floor at your favorite theatre?

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (1)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549914)

While the ethics of doing so could be debated forever without a definitive conclusion, from strictly a scientific standpoint it would prove invaluable. We'd be able to directly analyze an individual who is, in essence, four millennia old. The immune system of this person would potentially be drastically different from ours today, so the research here would be particularly enlightening.

Okay I have to speak up. This sounds like an Italian low-budget ripoff of Species.

Re:The archaeological find I'm waiting for: semen. (1)

beyowulf (1014741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550146)

Don't think that going to work. Sperm cells don't typically last longer than a few days(a week?)

How would that work? (3, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550390)

Why would a jar with some semen in it be any more likely to contain DNA than all the other remains? In fact, if sperm were somehow miraculously well preserved in and of itself, you could probably recover some from the appropriate organs in the mummified remains (unless they had the testicle jar, but I never heard of that one). Anyway, non-gamete DNA for cloning would hypothetically be more interesting anyway than fertilizing a modern egg with half DNA from 4 millenia go. If you're going to make something like that, why only care about half the old DNA when you could have the whole thing? Even without cloning analysis can be done on the DNA versus today for a bulk of the scientific interest anyway, well, comparison for some of what we know today, archival for studies later when more is understood.

DNA may very well already have been extracted and studied, I have no idea, but sperm/semen is much more boring than a full set of chromosomes in a single package.

GW (4, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549662)

The graves of George Washington's crack dental team are probably safe.

Re:GW (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549718)

"crack dental team"

Ouch. I don't think they'll use that term in adverts.

Re:GW (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549878)

Well, they've been using cocaine as a dental anaesthetic for a long time, but the CIA didn't exist to invent crack cocaine back in Washington's day...

Re:GW (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549926)

"but the CIA didn't exist to invent crack cocaine back in Washington's day..."

However, they did have time machines to ensure that the Freemason plans were continuing as planned. Muahahahah!

Re:GW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16550354)

Mmmm, crack...

EULA (2, Funny)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549978)

included an inscription warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake, Hawass said.
Presumably representing the MPAA and RIAA.

One wonders (4, Funny)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16549986)

Blockquothing TFA:
"an eye over a tusk -- which appear frequently among the neat rows of symbols decorating the tombs. He said those hieroglyphs identify the men as dentists."
Given this, I have to wonder what the hieroglyphs for the Pharoh's proctologist looked like. Maybe an eye over a donkey?

How do they know it is 30%? (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550010)

[a senior archaeologist] believes only 30 percent of what lies hidden beneath the sands has been uncovered.
What sort of data goes into an estimate like this? Does anyone have any idea?

Re:How do they know it is 30%? (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550278)

What sort of data goes into an estimate like this? Does anyone have any idea?

Probably just the sheer number of (semi) important people who would have died over the time period of the pyramids and merited a fancy burial.

Back in February they found a new tomb [bbc.co.uk] which is literally something like 45 feet from the tomb of Tut -- the first undisturbed find since Tut's tomb. I was watching a show last night on Discovery about the recovery/perservation efforts. They seem to think it was either his mother or his wife based on the evidence.

I don't know how they arrive at 30%, but it's probably based on the number of tombs they would expect vs the number that have been documented as having been found.

Cheers

And his HMO (3, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550018)

Still hasn't paid.

Yank Like An Egyptian (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16550252)

All the old Pharoahs in the tombs
Didn't brush enough, dont you know
It led to tooth decay (oh whey oh)
Teeth falling out like a hockey Joe.

All the king's dentists by the Nile
Don't even know 'bout filling holes
Gold incisors (oh whey oh)
Go in after the old get pulled.

Plier bites without nitrous pipes say:
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Yank like an Egyptian.

whats the diffrence? (1)

darkchubs (814225) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550270)

whats a "grave robber" anyway... I mean, isn't archeology grave robbing? Is it defined by what you do with the loot. if you sell it to a museum vs. a private collector its not grave robbing? And .. well if you steal from a 2000 year old pile O' dust

"It belongs in a musuem!" (1)

OIIIIO (983876) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550384)

The grave robbers, meanwhile, are recovering from severe whip lacerations received from a mysterious, independent archeologist who was first on the scene.

First clue...really the hieroglyphs? (3, Funny)

goofyspouse (817551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550446)

"an eye over a tusk -- which appear frequently among the neat rows of symbols decorating the tombs. He said those hieroglyphs identify the men as dentists."


As if the stack of old Highlights magazines in the entryway were not clue enough...

Re:First clue...really the hieroglyphs? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552008)

"Goofus loots the tombs without permission....Galant asks the Egyptian authorities first."

Zahi Hawass (2, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550484)

Zahi Hawass; either he's omnipresent, or is a media hound, because it seems any documentary or photo shoot about Egyptian archeology has him in it. Maybe he just likes fame as much as archeology.

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/events/sc/102206eg ypttombs//im:/061022/481/d9433cbb7dc24106bdf87f124 dd60323 [yahoo.com]

Dan East

It couldn't be... (1)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16553798)

...because he is Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities [wikipedia.org] , a position which "is responsible for the conservation, protection and regulation of all antiquities and archaeological excavations in Egypt" [wikipedia.org] - nah, not possible at all!


Seriously, you might want to do a bit of research before posting, it might answer your questions! I will admit, it does seem like he is all over the place, but given his job, one would expect him to be...

I, for one... (1)

Planeflux (992050) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550502)

I, for one, welcome our new Dentist Overlords.

Only 30% of what lies under the sand is known? (2, Interesting)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550520)

So, I have a question. Not an archaeologist, nor a seismologist, nor anything else. Layman here.

But don't they have the means now to map things which lie below the surface? I believe I've heard or read that they have satellites that can do that to some extent now. Also, I saw a show on the Discovery Channel where they planted small charges in a grid pattern in some Greek island while looking for the origin of the Atlantis myth, detonated them, and then created an image based on how well sound propagated through subsoil strata.

If that's so, then why can't they do something like that in the Nile river valley? Surely it's gotta be cheaper and faster and safer to uncover the past that way than to dig randomly or wait for a bunch of grave-robbing turkeys to make finds first.

Re:Only 30% of what lies under the sand is known? (1)

zulater (635326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550884)

I do believe they have ground penetrating radar that could work, my understanding is that the egyptian government is not allowing it. What you are thinking of is a 3d seismic survey, commonly to find oil and gas. problem with that is you can't really image small scale things like tombs just larger scale ancient geology.

Re:Only 30% of what lies under the sand is known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16552206)

I'm no expert on the matter but I remember reading somewhere that the salt content in the sand prohibits radar exploration of the area. The feed I was reading was also talking about how they're using radar to look at Mars and the difference between the two areas.

Better Title: (4, Funny)

airship (242862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550670)

Pharohs' Dentists Found in Egyptian Cavity :)

Archeology - arrogant redfinition of grave robbery (2, Interesting)

FacePlant (19134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550758)

If you take something out of a tomb, whether to
sell it, or display it in a museum, it's still
grave robbery.

Re:Archeology - arrogant redfinition of grave robb (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552050)

Do you hover every time you visit a cemetary? I suppose you would like us to also hover over any grave that's ever been made (which would mean hovering for all eternity unless we visit another planet), so as not to (potentially) damage it?

How, exactly, do you propose to stop other people grave robbing, those who wreck the tombs, the history, all evidence and the artifacts, FOR THE GOLD AND THE MONEY before "real" scientists (who quite often go out of their way to make sure that virtually every body that can be is preserved and respected to the utmost degree and then usually re-buried in a ceremony as close to traditional as possible, as close to their original burial place as possible?) come along and carefully preserve every bit they can. Look at the photos in the article - the BODYGUARD guarding the tomb now that it's been discovered - think he'd be there if there were no scientists around to fight for the rights of the dead?

Maybe we shouldn't sell people's houses when they die?
Maybe all their possessions should stay in the same place for ever and ever?

Maybe we should forget every bit of history we've ever learned from about 200 years ago previously, if we can't find documentary evidence of it? Let's forget all we know about the Romans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, pre-historic people, dinosaurs... After all none of them were a civilisation worth researching, remembering or revering? And none of them can help us answer questions such as evolution, or the ice ages, or the sudden dying-out of millions of species, or the natural cycles of the planet's ice ages, or global warming?

Go find out how they bury bodies in cemetaries in smaller (developed) countries - Every twenty or so years, parts of the existing cemeteries are covered in twenty feet of soil and new bodies are buried atop the older ones. Is that desecration to you?

*Of course* human graves should be respected at all times. "Real" grave robbers lack this respect. Archaeologists do not EVER lack respect for the bodies, civilisations or artefacts they find. That's WHY they fight to study them, preserve them, store them (in a safer place than an unguarded tomb that will be robbed within MINUTES), allow people to marvel at them BEFORE some git comes along and steals it (whether from a dig site, an undiscovered site or a museum itself) to sell to the highest bidder who only wants them as something "nice" to put on their mantlepiece.

And I thought mine was bad. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16550848)

I used to have two dentists (cleaning monthly [still go there every month] and one was orthodentist for braces and stuff). Three? That's just crazy. :)

What's a few Centuries between Friends? (1)

TheWizardOfCheese (256968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552018)

The step pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara is closer to 5,000 years old than 4,000, as any educated person knows and a quick google would have told you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_of_Djoser/ [wikipedia.org]

4,000 years would put it outside the Old Kingdom dates and the major pyramid-building era altogether. But hey, it all happened a long time ago, and anything that happened a long time ago practically happened on the same date!

Oddly enough (1)

BookeWyrmm (898452) | more than 7 years ago | (#16552728)

There was no evidence of Laura Croft having been any where near the site, and when asked about the dust covered dental molds, Representatives of Ms. Croft stated that said molds had been purchased in ... um.. Bangladesh.

etp!O! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16552910)

the goodw1lL [goat.cx]

The dead giveway to their former job titles.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16553232)

...was all the piles of well worn and dog eared Readers digest and cosmopolitain near the the sargophaguses.

I don't want to be buried (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16555254)

In a mummy's dentist cemetary
Don't want to live my life again.

oh no.
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