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Ancient Egypt has stood out even among the impressive remains of other ancient civilizations for three main reasons: the pyramids are enormous, the cultural style and imagery remained consistent for ages, and it is really, really old. One of the biggest questions surrounding ancient Egypt then is “where did it come from?” Last week at the Dialogue of Civilizations in Guatemala, National Geographic grantee Renee Friedman of the British Museum, and Ramadan Hussein, recent recipient of a Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Tuebingen, set out to answer that question. Friedman began by showing the “Narmer Palette,” which dates from 3100 BC, and features a ruler, triumphant over his enemies, seen with the crowns of both Upper and Lower Egypt.
According to Friedman, the iconography of forceful leadership and control over chaos illustrate that already at this early date, the role of kingship in Egypt fit a pattern that would continue for the next 3,000 years.
Renee Friedman leads excavations at the oldest known city in Egypt, Hierakonpolis (“city of the falcons”) where the Narmer Palette was found. Remarkably even the earliest stages of Hierakonpolis give clues to significant developments beforehand; it was clearly a planned settlement “from the outset” and it was the center of a cult dedicated to a falcon, either a predecessor to or the earliest example of the god Horus, shown for the subsequent millennia as a falcon himself, or a falcon-headed man.
Hierakonpolis contains many interesting sites and burials, but Friedman mentioned two in particular which shed light on what was capable and what was important at this earliest stage in Egypt’s history. One purpose it may have had was to support the feeding of and ceremonial activity around Hierakonpolis’ most unexpected occupants: dozens of wild animals. The wild animal bones at Hierakonpolis are buried individually almost the same as the humans at the same site. Many of these animals were thought of as “agents of chaos” said Friedman, “that rulers and rituals were meant to control.” With one in six annual Nile floods being either too low or too high, you can understand the people’s hope for salvation from such chaos.
Numerous holes at the site indicate where posts would have been erected, to create rooms and temples from wood, cloth, and plaster, in this era a thousand years before the great pyramids, and two thousand before the Rameses’ famous stone temples and monuments. Finely chipped animal effigies were found buried in the corners of the temple at Hierakonpolis.
In the corners of these temples, the team found delicately worked stone effigies of the same species of animals buried throughout the site.
While the spectacle of these animals in life and death would have been quite a powerful illustration of the power of the leader, the associated costs may have been unsustainable. Images from a painted tomb illustrate the shift from live animals to painted ones to indicate a ruler’s power. Eventually Hierakonpolis would lose out to Abydos as the bigger city in the region, but Friedman says it would have its monuments restored, and the temple would hold artifacts of kingship which may even have been on view as a kind of ancient museum display.
Young Egyptian egyptologist Ramadan Hussein then presented on how he searches for the origins of Egyptian civilization not so just in buildings and bones, but in the extensive written record left by this early and highly literate civilization. According to the ancient Greeks, he said, the ancient Egyptians said that Osiris, god of the dead, taught people the art of civilization and agriculture.
The most important of these early urban centers in Upper Egypt were Hierakonpolis in the south, Naqqada at the noticeable bend in the Nile, and Abydos just a bit further north than that. An overlay of GCI posts fill the holes at the site and more clearly reveal the outlines of ancient structures. The dynamics that led to these cities ultimately becoming part of one great Egyptian whole, as seen in the Narmer Palette, are what Ramadan Hussein was particularly interested in during this presentation. In Hierakonpolis not only was the Narmer Pallete found, but so was the tomb of a man identified through hieroglyphic inscriptions as “King Scorpion.” In nearby rock art, he’s shown conquering another man, whose symbol appears to be that of Lower Egypt.
All this points to the idea that before Narmer unified Egypt’s two kingdoms politically, Scorpion conquered the cities of Upper Egypt to create one of those kingdoms in the first place (watch a full NatGeo Channel documentary on “The Scorpion King” featring Renee Friedman).
Given this presence of the name of Scorpion throughout the entire region, Ramadan Hussein thinks this early king, even before Narmer, may have had a hand in the union of the kingdoms. In conclusion for the presentations on ancient Egypt, Ramadan Hussein and Renee Friedman took the stage to answer a few questions from the audience.
Asked about the mysteriously sudden inspiration and ability to construct the pyramids, Hussein gave a solid and practical answer. Renee Friedman then fielded a question about how well does the archaeological record correspond with details from Egypt’s extensive written records.
I believe, going by the physical features depicted on the ancient Egyptian art, the ancient Egyptians constituted a separate race by themselves and can not be identified with either African blacks or European whites. Despite it all, we should just admire the accomplishments of one of the great cradles of civilization as a human accomplishment and not as some sort of proof of one race being superior over another. Also The Sudan pyramids were built almost 1000 years AFTER the last pyramid in egypt , the Nubians copied some of the egyptians clothing and small pyramids later on that were no where near as sophisticated as the real ones. About seven years ago I wrote a blog post on the origin of Egyptian civilisaton and its Sumerian source. The title of this article is extremely misleading, given the content of the article itself. I can recall reading old books where the so-called authorites on Ancient Egypt would state that the egyptians were a dark skin group of white people with negroid features, then others would state that they were a special race of red-skinned people.
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In fact, the pyramids were roughly as old to ancient tourists from classical Greece as the ruins of Athens and Delphi are to us today.
While earlier generations thought there must have been an external spark from Mesopotamia or elsewhere that triggered the rise of civilization in Egypt, she’s uncovering a very different tale. There is also a portrait in flint of a human of unusual but recognizable proportions: a dwarf. The amount of food required to feed these animals (including an elephant and a hippo, remember) was immense.
No longer housing and dispatching entire menageries to convey their command over chaos, they “switch back to imagery.” In painted tombs, the same symbolism continues in a much more manageable way for thousands of years. This looking back to the past was a key element of ancient Egyptian culture, and it may be what kept the expression of that culture so relatively consistent for more than three millennia.
The modern story follows the archaeological record, and in it, Hussein says, we see that there are early cities in Upper and Lower Egypt that were all in the process of developing into states.
Those dynamics function on many levels, including the personal: there is one man who may have been the key to the bringing them all together. While the south saw military conquest, Hussein says in the north change came through a cultural movement.
The Narmer Palette, he suggests, could just as easily represent a king putting down a rebellion as conquering a separate kingdom.
Harking back to her translation of “hieroglyph” as “writing of the gods,” she said, “There is remarkably good correspondence. They did not have ringged hair and big lips like the former and nor were they well built like the latter.
They did not have ringged hair and big lips like the former and nor were they well built like the former. So, they being of Caucusoid origin seems pure fiction inspired by the depictipn of Egypt in Hollywood movies.
It is nothing but astonishing that people seem to believe that at a time before planes trains and automobiles at place close to the equator in Africa was somehow white? DNA studies indicate that people are indeed diverse with origins from various places and at different times. Absurdity, up to the point of even claiming extra- terrestrial contact for origin of this high level of civilization. Please contact us via email or by phone at (202) 857-7027 to see about booking a grantee or a scientific expert. If you are looking for a specific release, please email us and we'll send you a copy from our files. Using award-winning photographs and video, our modern storytellers share adventures from the field, reporting on a wide range of human-interest and conservation topics. A teacher or educator must be present during the screening, and the video must be shown in its entirety. In preparation for such work, many of our writers have made a thorough study of the sciences, journalism, and English, and in some cases know several languages. Our programs are highly competitive and target students with skills and determination in fields pertinent to the National Geographic Society's work. Because the processing of electronic applications is more efficient, applications must be submitted through the website.
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The heart of Palestinian resistance, Gaza is the launching area for attacks on Israel and the primary target of Israeli strikes on militants. Nine years ago, Cornell ornithologist Edwin Scholes and biologist and photographer Tim Laman began a quest to be the first to find and document all 39 species of the legendary birds of paradise. So much methane fizzes from Sherry Vargson’s kitchen tap that she can light it like a stove. Called by spirits to heal bodies, minds and souls, shamans inhabit many roles: doctors, priests, mystics, psychologists, oracles and poets, and their numbers are growing. Toward the end of the Mesolithic age in northern Europe some 8,000 years ago, a warming climate and rising sea levels forced the hunter-gatherer societies of Doggerland (lowlands situated between modern-day Britain and Denmark) to abandon their settlements and move to higher ground.
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With activity at the site as early as 3700 BC, “there was momentum long before Narmer,” she says.
While the vast quantities of beer production there are what catch most people’s attention, she said in truth, it was a site of much broader significance, processing any number of grain based foods. This was a home for culturally significant wild animals many of whom appear to have been sacrificed at once, perhaps with humans as well, as part of a ritual display of power, or perhaps to accompany their owner, employer, or master to the afterlife when he met his own demise. In graffiti near Naqqada, a king labeled “Scorpion” is seen defeating a bull-headed man, a symbol of the king of Naqqada. Once completely different in terms of houses, pottery, and more, throughout the region of Maadi and Buto, there suddenly appears pottery mentioning King Scorpion.
They mostly look lean in varied shades of brown complexion like the people of Eastern India. Even Jews were probably not white before moving to Europe because their Indian counterparts are not white right now.
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Since 2008 she has leased her Pennsylvania land to a gas company for drilling, but, like some other landowners who have done the same, has had second thoughts. Minority groups throughout Central Asia are embracing traditional religious practices to reinvigorate their culture — even forming shamanic organizations to advocate for their interests. Now completely submerged beneath the North Sea, Doggerland is an interesting case study for archaeologists interested in how pre-modern man dealt with a changing climate. It is sent out each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Nevertheless, the announcement was met with skepticism by many conservationists, demanding greater scrutiny of the findings. Endangered Species Act has been welcomed by Dereck Joubert, director of the new National Geographic film The Last Lions. They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society. It remains unclear whether its products were used regularly by average people, or ceremonially among early Egyptian elites.
And the bones aren’t scattered in one heap of food remains, each animal was buried intact, the same as the many humans interred in the same area.
As climate and possible over use push elephants further away from the city, they disappear from the iconography, and the giant wild bovine known as the aurochs becomes the ultimate symbol of the ruler’s strength. Back in King Scorpion’s tomb in Hierakonpolis, there was found a vase with similar bull symbolism. It is questionable anytime ethnic groups of people claim to be the chosen ones or constantly claim ownership of a heritage which is not theirs. You may also reach a National Geographic Communications staff member directly by visiting the Contacts page. However, because we cannot know a person's particular talents nor assure employment after a completed course, we do not encourage gearing a career or educational program specifically toward employment by the National Geographic Society.
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Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols spent more than two weeks in the field photographing the President, the world’s second-largest known tree; it is 247 feet high and at least 3,200 years old.
For the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza, this supply network is the lifeline for goods such as wheat and cooking oil as well as items like cars — and even a lion for the Gaza Zoo.
Thanks to a remote habitat, abundant food and few predators, the birds have evolved with great diversity.
Testing in 2010 showed Vargson’s water contained more than twice the methane that’s considered an explosion threat.
Carolyn Drake’s photos capture the shamans at work, from helping someone secure government documents to sacrificing a sheep to initiate novices.
Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership to the Society. Seth, being the god of confusion and evil, grew jealous and killed his brother (again, according to the Greeks). The process of mummification can not in any was bleach hair platinum or all mummies would be that way.
You couldn’t walk to media and Nubia was a black place and didn’t the black pharaohs of Nubia unite upper and lower Egypt ?
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The natural gas boom has created thousands of jobs and paid millions of dollars to landowners. We seek balance and an eclectic blend of interests, abilities, and photographic styles in the freelancers we hire. Marianne Lavelle explores this issue, from the fracking process used to harvest gases to the impact that increased methane emissions may have on global warming.
They go to the council of the gods and Horus is given the position to rule Egypt, and Osiris goes on to be god of the dead.

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