TIME France

Priceless Ancient Egyptian Antiques Smuggled into Paris Are Returned

France Egypt
French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone, left, welcomes Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before their talks in Paris, France, Nov. 27 Nov. 2014. Bertrand Guay—AP

The antiques date back as far as 2,000 B.C.

Some 250 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were found in the luggage of passengers arriving in Paris four years ago were returned Thursday.

French customs handed the trove over to the Egyptian Embassy, Associated Press reports.

The items, including rings, amulets, clay posts, funeral statues and other objects, come from different periods during the Egyptian empire, with some dating back as far as 2,000 B.C.

Other antiques hail from the Roman and Byzantine eras and as late as the 7th century.

The smuggled items were seized in 2010 at Charles de Gaulle airport in the French capital. Their return came at the close of a visit to Paris by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

[AP]

TIME Egypt

Egypt Jails 78 Boys for Being at a Muslim Brotherhood Rally

Morsi supporters stage rallies on Rabaa's 1-year mark
Anticoup protesters shout slogans as they march at al-Haram Street during a demonstration on Aug. 14, 2014, in Cairo, marking the first anniversary of the killing of hundreds of Morsi supporters by security forces Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

The youngest are 13 years old; sentences range up to five years

Seventy-eight boys have been sentenced to up to five years in prison by an Egyptian court for being present at Muslim Brotherhood protests.

The boys, between the ages of 13 and 17, were sentenced for taking part in a rally calling for the return of President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in 2014, the BBC reports.

But a defense lawyer for the boys says some of them were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ever since Morsi was deposed, Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on thousands of his supporters and indeed on any opposition. At least 1,400 people have died and more than 15,000 are in prison.

A draft antiterrorism law was approved Wednesday, giving the government blanket powers to ban opposition groups on charges such as harming national unity and disrupting public order.

[BBC]

TIME Bizarre

The Origins of the ‘Pharaoh’s Curse’ Legend

Howard Carter and King Tut
Howard Carter, English Egyptologist, near golden sarcophagus of Tutankhamon in Egypt in 1922 Rue des Archive / Getty Images

Nov. 26, 1922: Archaeologists enter King Tut’s tomb for the first time

To those who entered King Tut’s tomb — the first people to see inside since the teenaged pharaoh was buried there 3,300 years earlier — the experience inspired either awe or terror.

For British archaeologist Howard Carter, it was a career-defining discovery and the culmination of years of searching for the lost tomb. The hunt had seemed hopeless after months spent sifting through 70,000 tons of sand and gravel, according to Carter’s obituary in the New York Times. But when a workman found a step cut into a chunk of bedrock buried in the sand, the stairway it revealed led to the door of the tomb. Carter opened it on this day, Nov. 26, in 1922.

Tutankhamen was only about 8 or 9 when he came to power in 1332 BC. His decade-long rule was relatively unremarkable in Egyptian history; the discovery of his tomb was significant instead because it was the first such tomb to be found almost entirely intact.

Inside, according to a 1922 New York Times account, stood two life-size statues of the pharaoh wearing solid gold sandals and gold crowns adorned with stylized cobras. The cobras gave local workmen pause, especially after a grim omen later that day. According to the Times, Carter kept a canary as a pet, but that night it was killed by a snake. “The incident made an impression on the native staff, who regard it as a warning from the spirit of the departed King against further intrusion on the privacy of his tomb,” the Times noted.

Newspapers began reporting the legend of a “Pharoah’s Curse,” which would mean death for anyone who disturbed the ancient rulers’ slumber. The wealthy Brit who financed Carter’s excavation, and who joined him inside the tomb on this day 92 years ago, was dead by April — although, as the Times noted, “he had been in bad health.” Eleven other people in the group that entered the tomb with Carter were dead within seven years.

In his 1939 obituary, the Times points out that Carter, despite being fairly sickly himself, lived long enough to be “the best refutation of the curse.” He may have been too dazzled by the tomb’s gilded treasures to give superstition a second thought — after all, Tut was not, in fact, buried in his jammies. Instead, as TIME reported when his coffin was finally opened three years after the tomb was, he wore golden sandals, a gold-inlaid royal apron, a golden star in the place where his heart had been and “innumerable amulets of beauty and ghostly merit, as well as two swords, jewel-studded.”

Over his head and shoulders, Tut wore his now-iconic solid-gold death mask, inlaid with lapis lazuli and precious stones. On his forehead were representations of the deities tasked with protecting him in death: one in the form of a vulture, the other a cobra meant to spit poison at his enemies.

The cobra may have taken revenge on Carter’s canary, but it did little to keep the archaeologist from disturbing the pharaoh’s eternal rest. After Carter opened Tut’s sarcophagus, he and his workers “wrenched the golden mask away from the royal mummy,” the BBC reported — and decapitated the Boy King in the process.

Read TIME’s 1934 report on rumors that a prominent Egyptologist had fallen prey to King Tut’s curse: A Curse on a Curse

TIME Infectious Disease

Egypt Sees Second Bird Flu Death in Two Days

A poultry merchant feeds a pigeon from her mouth in a popular market in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 19 2014.
A poultry merchant feeds a pigeon from her mouth in a popular market in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 19 2014. Khaled Elfiqi—EPA

30-year-old woman had contact with infected birds

Egypt’s health ministry said Tuesday that a woman died from H5N1 bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds, one day after another case proved fatal.

The 30-year-0ld woman was reported in a state newspaper to have died in a hospital in the southern city of Assiut, according to Reuters, just a day after a 19-year-old woman had died in the same city.

Seven cases of the virus, including three deaths, have been identified in Egypt this year. H5N1 doesn’t appear to transmit efficiently between human beings, the World Health Organization says, and Egypt’s cases have largely revolved around rural areas where villages slaughter or keep poultry.

[Reuters]

TIME Demographics

The U.S. Is No Longer the Most Popular Country in the World

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Thumbs up, Germany. Fernando Alonso Herrero—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Everyone wants to be Germany's friend now

Germany knocked the U.S. out of the top spot in an international survey measuring the popularity of countries around the world.

Germany ranked first and the United States second out of 50 countries in the annual Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, which polled more than 20,000 people across 20 countries. It’s the first time the U.S. hasn’t held first place since 2009.

The study measures global perceptions of countries based on a variety of attributes, including governance, culture and sports. According to a statement from GfK, the German-based market research that runs the study, Germany benefited from a boost in the “sports excellence” category after winning the 2014 World Cup.

The United States was brought down by poor perceptions in Egypt and Russia.

Russia, meanwhile, dropped more in its global perception ranking than any other of the 50 countries.

Read next: “A Little Piece of Freedom”: David Hasselhoff Remembers the Berlin Wall

TIME Egypt

Egyptian Islamists Pledge Allegiance to ISIS

Sinai group is at war with Egyptian government

The Egyptian Islamist groups Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) according to The Guardian.

The report cites a nine-minute recording in which a member of the group says: “In accordance with the teachings of the Prophet, we announce our allegiance to the Caliphate, and call on Muslims everywhere to do the same.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, proclaimed himself the leader or caliph of an Islamic state or caliphate earlier this year and asked Muslims to pledge allegiance to him. It is not clear whether the announcement has anything other than symbolic value.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, who have been fighting the Egyptian state for more than three years from their bases in northern Sinai, is among the largest groups to have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The group have carried out bombings in Egyptian cities as well as fighting an insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula.

[The Guardian]

TIME politics

Who Remembers the Greatest Woman to Rule the Ancient World?

Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut Michelle McMahon—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Hatshepsut, a woman who was Egypt’s king, serves as a model and cautionary tale for today’s female politicians

This November, nearly 200 women ran for Congress. Most didn’t win. Of the 535 representatives and senators currently serving, only 99 — 18.5 percent — are women. Why are there so few women in positions of power in this modern age?

One way to answer that question is through the story of the greatest woman ever to rule in the ancient world — an Egyptian pharaoh.

In Egypt in the 15th century B.C., women were considered sexual companions and the carriers of men’s seed—not rulers. But Hatshepsut found her way to the throne of the richest and most powerful state in the ancient world. Then, a mere 25 years after her death, ruling elites had her statues smashed into bits.

I wrote my book about Hatshepsut, The Woman Who Would Be King, after the birth of my son. Motherhood made me realize, as I never had before, how trapped women are by our bodies. Hatshepsut must have felt the same kind of entrapment after she gave birth to the child of her half-brother, the king, while still in her early teens. That child was a girl, not the son for whom her people had hoped. But Hatshepsut’s lack of a son laid the foundation for the rest of her strange, charmed life.

Hatshepsut’s husband passed away after only three years of rule, when Hatshepsut was very young, perhaps 16. At the time, the next in line to be king of Egypt was a mere infant—not her own baby, but a baby belonging to one of her husband’s second-class wives.

Hatshepsut had the power to fill this vacuum. Her bloodline was impeccable, back to kings of the earlier 18th Dynasty. She had an education, likely begun in early childhood. Not only was she the highest-ranking royal wife, but also she was Egypt’s most powerful priestess.

Hatshepsut made sure the young king — that infant son of a lesser wife — was educated, brought up in the temple mysteries, and trained in the military arts. But since he was so small, Hatshepsut took charge.

So it was Hatshepsut who gave the vizier — the king’s second-in-command — orders about trading ventures to the land of Punt, who discussed treasury matters with her royal steward, and who put down insurrections in Kerma (in modern-day Sudan). She personally oversaw the collection of the spoils of war, according to a tomb inscription written by her overseer of the treasury.

Then, for reasons that were not recorded, Hatshepsut was given — or decided she needed — more. When the young King Thutmose III was just 8 or 9, Hatshepsut was crowned king alongside him, with the full support of her courtiers, Egypt’s elite families, and its powerful temple priesthoods. Hatshepsut became a king — because ancient Egypt had no word for a female ruler.

She won this prize because she was the most able person for the job. Hatshepsut also built a strong cohort of supporters — men whose continued prosperity depended on her power.

When Thutmose III was approaching his 16th year, she tried another strategy to retain power. In statuary, in reliefs, maybe even in rituals before her elites and populace — she took on the appearance of a man. She bound her breasts; she wore a masculine kilt; she tied on the long beard of kings. She was ostensibly past childbearing years, which meant that she would never bear her own heir to the throne, and her co-king was quickly becoming a man. She had to stay ahead of him.

Historians have given many explanations for Hatshepsut’s power plays — an unreasonable greed and lust for influence being chief among them. But she actually helped Thutmose III’s position by keeping him by her side. Thutmose III accompanied her on campaigns to Kush, presumably participating in the battles, the dispatch of enemies and the taking of spoils. The investment paid off: Thutmose III became the greatest warrior king Egypt had ever seen.

The history of her reign became troublesome as Thutmose III was grooming his chosen son to be next in line. The possibility of another woman taking the throne was a complication he decided to erase. So down went the statues and the first layer of the temple reliefs.

We’ve come a long way since the 15th century B.C., but what’s interesting is how much remains the same.

Kara Cooney is associate professor of Egyptian art and architecture at the University of California at Los Angeles. She wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME People

Tutankhamun Had a Clubfoot and His Parents Were Probably Siblings

EGYPT-ARCHAEOLOGY-MUSEUM
A picture taken on Sept. 30, 2013, shows a statue of the 18th Dynasty King Tutankhamun displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo Mahmoud Khaled—AFP/Getty Images

A "virtual autopsy" conducted on the Egyptian king reveals that he had several genetic disorders

Tutankhamun was afflicted with severe genetic disorders, most likely because of inbreeding, according to an upcoming documentary on the legendary pharaoh.

The Egyptian king, who ruled from 1332 B.C. to 1323 B.C., is believed to have died at age 19 after medical complications following a leg fracture in a chariot accident. However, a recently conducted “virtual autopsy” revealed that he had a clubfoot that would have made riding a chariot close to impossible, according to the Independent.

“It was important to look at his ability to ride on a chariot and we concluded it would not be possible for him, especially with his partially clubbed foot, as he was unable to stand unaided,” said Professor Albert Zink, head of Italy’s Institute for Mummies and Icemen. However, Zink made it clear that a lot of research has yet to be done.

A simultaneously conducted genetic analysis of Tutankhamun’s family also revealed that his parents might have been brother and sister, resulting in genetic impairments that, Zink says, may have weakened him and contributed to his death. There were 130 walking sticks discovered in his tomb.

The new research is part of a BBC documentary called Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered, which will air on Oct. 26.

Read next: Facebook Reveals How Common It Is For Siblings to Have The Same First Initial

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Fix the system, don’t fight individual diseases: Why Ebola may change how aid dollars are spent on healthcare in Africa.

By Lesley Wroughton at Reuters

2. Plan for a global body to regulate the great promise of genetics — balancing unfettered innovation with sensible rules to prevent abuse.

By Jamie F. Metzl in Foreign Affairs

3. Because it increases disease and exacerbates resource scarcity, the Pentagon sees climate change as a threat multiplier.

By Laura Barron-Lopez in the Hill

4. The U.S. should call out Egypt’s rising authoritarian leadership and the plight of repressed people there.

By the Editorial Board of the Washington Post

5. Successful community collaborations build civic confidence for increasingly audacious projects that can improve lives.

By Monique Miles in the Collective Impact Forum blog

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Egypt

U.N. Agency Investigating Claims of Damage to Ancient Pyramid

Building materials gather dust at the foot of the Djoser Pyramid in Saqqara, Egypt on Sept. 16, 2014.
Building materials gather dust at the foot of the Djoser Pyramid in Saqqara, Egypt, on Sept. 16, 2014 Samuel McNeil—AP

Egyptian media has reported the 4,600 year-old structure has been damaged during an ongoing restoration project

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is requesting more information from Egyptian authorities on the restoration of the Djoser Pyramid, after Egyptian media reported that the 4,600-year-old pyramid’s facade had been damaged.

Agency officials told Agence France-Presse that the UNESCO World Heritage Centre “sent a letter to the Ministry of Antiquities requesting a detailed technical report on the work.”

The country’s Minister of Antiquities called the claim of damage “baseless,” according to AFP.

[AFP]

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