25 August 2014

Ancient Egyptians mummified their dead much earlier than previously known

The Biblical Archaeology Society reported on the 15th August 2014 that new research has found that the ancient Egyptians began mummifying their dead much longer ago than previously thought. About fifteen hundred years earlier to be exact. Reading the article inspired me to learn some more about Egyptian mummies and the mummification process.

The British Museum's website explains that "the earliest ancient Egyptians buried their dead in small pits in the desert. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural 'mummies'." (Mummification, Ancient Egypt | The British Museum)

The Ancient History Encyclopedia explains that although unintentional mummification happened as far back as prehistoric times, mummification as a purposeful and ritualistic process started around 2600 B.C.E. It was a long and expensive procedure which is why mummification was first reserved solely for Pharaohs whose mummies were placed in opulent tombs or pyramids. (Mummification in Ancient Egypt, Ancient History Encyclopedia)

Some further research led me to the 'other side of the pond' for further information from the Smithsonian.
The methods of embalming, or treating the dead body, that the ancient Egyptians used is called mummification. Using special processes, the Egyptians removed all moisture from the body, leaving only a dried form that would not easily decay. It was important in their religion to preserve the dead body in as life-like a manner as possible. So successful were they that today we can view the mummified body of an Egyptian and have a good idea of what he or she looked like in life, 3000 years ago.
Source: Egyptian Mummies, The Encyclopedia Smithsonian

The Biblical Archaeology article also explains that prehistoric Egyptians first preserved the bodies of their dead by leaving them out in the hot, dry desert. It further adds that "the use of resins and other embalming agents to preserve bodies after death was thought to have begun during the late Old Kingdom, circa 2200 B.C.E." As for how researchers found that mummification in ancient Egypt is much older than previously known, the article explains best:
An 11-year study conducted by researchers from the Universities of York, Macquari and Oxford used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and thermal desorption/pyrolysis to examine linen wrappings in Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic (c. 4500–3350 B.C.E.) tombs in cemeteries at Mostagedda in Upper Egypt. 
Wrapped around the bodies of the entombed, the linens were found to contain some of the same embalming agents—in similar proportions—that were used over a millennia later in Pharaonic mummification in Middle Kingdom Egypt. 
Source: Ancient Egyptians Mummification, Biblical Archaeology Society

How amazing that modern science and technology have helped researchers learn that mummification was intentionally practised as far back as five thousand years ago and earlier, instead of 'only' from circa 2600 B.C.E. This breakthrough in what we know about the ancient Egyptians would not have been possible fifty or a hundred years ago as humanity's knowledge of science and technology simply wasn't advanced enough. Just imagine what we might learn ten, twenty or fifty years from now!

13 August 2014

ISIS... Islamic Terrorism at its worst

In October 2001, almost thirteen years ago, Robert Worth published an article in the New York Times entitled "The Deep Intellectual Roots of Islamic Terror." In the article, he quotes Princeton professor of Near Eastern Studies Michael Doran who talks about terrorist group Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden. Remember, this article was published only a month after the horrible events of September 11, 2001.
''Many Americans seem to think that bin Laden is just a violent cult leader,'' said Michael Doran. ... ''But the truth is that he is tapping into a minority Islamic tradition with a wide following and a deep history.'' 
Although many Muslims are horrified at the notion that their faith is being used to justify terrorism, Mr. bin Laden's advocacy of jihad, or holy war, against the West is a natural extension of what some radical Islamists have been saying and doing since the 1930's. These radicals were jailed, tortured and often executed in their home countries... for their attacks on Western influences and their efforts to replace their own regime with an Islamic state." 
The Deep Intellectual Roots of Islamic Terror, New York Times

Extremism can occur in any religion, any group, in any ideology, in any cause that inspires people and draws them together. Today, the world is faced with Islamic extremism. It is not 'just' a violent cult leader proclaiming jihad. It is not 'just' Al-Qaeda and the events of September 11, 2001. It is not 'just' the Taliban and Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah and the Islamic Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad. It is not 'just' ISIS (aka ISIL aka the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant). It is all of those terrorist organisations together with their followers and supporters from all around the world.

Just before I started writing this, I watched a video of ISIS mass-murdering scores of men. Several friends shared it on Facebook, expressing their disgust at the horror it depicts. The video is extremely brutal, showing people being beaten, being shot, killed in cold blood. I don't understand nearly enough Arabic to know what is being said, however I do know what I see. Mass murder as evidenced by shocking and horrifying images.

The Right Scoop : ISIS Murders 1500 POWs

This is what is happening in the world today. This is what human beings are doing to each other. This is what a world religion with an amazing potential for peace and love and brotherhood is being misused for. And this is what will spread around the world unchecked if we -- global humanity -- do not stand up and say NO to Islamic extremism.

"It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this."  
~ King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, earlier this month

12 August 2014

Operation Gaza Dome... A Harsh Reality-Check

I am very glad that this video is only fictional. Way too many people dead in Gaza, among them many innocent non-combatants. Shortages of water, food, electricity and just about everything else. Rockets being launched from inside or next to mosques, schools, hospitals, houses. The threat of being forced into being a human shield; of being executed for disagreeing with the establishment, of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of that is very real

What is also very real is the threat that Hamas and groups like it pose. It is time that the world stops blaming Israel for a conflict that is being caused by radical fundamental Islam. The "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria has crucified Christians, has killed fellow Muslims, are attempting to exterminate the Yazidi people. Remember the horrible events of 9/11? London subway bombings? Suicide bombings throughout Israel? Dutch documentary-maker Theo van Gogh killed in Amsterdam while riding his bike? Pro-Palestine / pro-Gaza demonstrations where ISIS flags are raised, where reporters and women are threatened and harassed? When will enough be enough already? When will we learn to stop hating each other, to stop trying to kill each other and stop trying to dominate, intimidate and terrorise each other?  

As for Operation Gaza Dome - Congratulations to whoever came up with the idea for this video. The beginning draws one in, "Operation Gaza Dome Is A Go" makes it sounds like it's time to dance and the countdown gives you time to 'recover' from the brief euphoria of a catchy tune and realise what it is you're watching... Definitely very well done, indeed. I hope it opens a lot of eyes and is seen by many.    

Source Gaza Dome, gevgevaComedy101  

08 August 2014

Saudi king condemns terrorism in Holy Land

The Times of Israel reports that Saudi Arabia's 90-year old King Abdullah spoke out against extremism and terrorism on Friday 01 August 2014 in a statement read out on Saudi Arabian television. The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques (located in Mecca and Medina) stressed that both Israel and Hamas were responsible for the violence in Gaza which, in the King's words had led to "various forms" of terrorism, whether from groups, organisations or states.
"In his remarks, the king pressed Muslim leaders to unite against extremism, saying terrorists are wrongfully carrying out deadly acts in the name of Islam and tarnishing the religion’s “purity and humanity.” 
His remarks appeared to be directed at groups like the Islamic State and its allies, which have taken over territory in Iraq and Syria and whose fighters view the Western-allied Saudi ruling family as enemies. 
“It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this,” the statement said. “They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes."
Source: Saudi king condemns Gaza war -- but not Israel | The Times of Israel

07 August 2014

Building the Burj Khalifa... Seven times over...

Check out this 23 July 2014 article from Tablet Magazine describing what the Palestinian people could have built, instead of smuggling / terror tunnels leading into Israel. At this point the IDF had, as the quote says, only located 18 tunnels.
"Israeli troops entering Gaza last week have so far uncovered 18 tunnels used by Hamas to send armed terrorists into Israel and built using an estimated 800,000 tons of concrete. 
What else might that much concrete build? Erecting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, required 110,000 tons of concrete. Hamas, then, could've treated itself to seven such monstrosities and still had a few tens of thousands of tons to spare. 
If it wanted to build kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters, like Israel has built for the besieged citizens of Sderot, for example—after all, noted military strategists like Jon Stewart have spent last week proclaiming that Gaza’s citizens had nowhere to hide from Israel’s artillery—Hamas could have used its leftovers to whip up about two that were each as big as Giants Stadium. And that’s just 18 tunnels. 
Egypt, on its end, recently claimed to have destroyed an additional 1,370. That’s a lot of concrete."
Source: Concrete Facts About Hamas, Tablet Magazine

Waiting for LOVE to win...

This embedded post comes from the Facebook page of George Takei.

George Takei's own words read: "As I've written before, so much of the bigotry and discrimination simply boils down to this. #GetOverit"

02 August 2014

Is it wise for the West to offer Gaza economic aid while Hamas is in charge?

A 29 July 2014 article by Efraim Inbar on the Middle East Forum looks into the wisdom of sending more economic aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza. The Executive Summary the article starts with states:
"The developing international consensus to offer Gaza economic aid in exchange for a ceasefire is a moral and strategic mistake. As long as Hamas rules Gaza, funds sent to Gaza are likely to be used for aggression against Israel and the personal use of Hamas leaders. The world should not be rewarding the most extreme Palestinians for violence and terror." 
Source: No Economic Aid To Hamas-Ruled Gaza, Middle East Forum

The article itself looks at Hamas rule in Gaza and what supporting continued Hamas rule through economic channels would mean for Gaza, for Palestine and for the world. Hamas is not a political party or a just, honest and democratic government. Hamas is an internationally recognised terrorist organisation intent on destroying Israel, exterminating the Jewish people and building a world-wide Islamic state. Personally, I don't want any of those things to happen. That is why I keep writing about Hamas, hoping to reach people, hoping to show the world that we need to support the Palestinian people by not supporting Hamas or what they stand for.

The Israel Defense Forces state that each individual tunnel costs $3 million dollars. So far a minimum of thirty - you read that right, THIRTY - tunnels have been discovered. The IDF's YouTube channel has several videos of these tunnels, showing the effort - and the money - that went into building them. Thirty tunnels equals $90 million dollars.

Imagine what a responsible, caring government could have done for Gaza with $90 million dollars. 
Imagine what honest and just leaders could have achieved for Gaza and for all the Palestinian people with all the resources that $90 million dollars can buy. 
Imagine the peaceful coexistence of two peoples, side by side yet united as the children of two brothers, that could have been a done deal years ago if only the Palestinian leadership had chosen to spend their money on building for peace, instead of tunnelling for war.