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 Pharaohs 1

اذهب الى الأسفل 
كاتب الموضوعرسالة

نقاط : 88370
تاريخ الانضمام : 31/12/1969

مُساهمةموضوع: Pharaohs 1   الأربعاء نوفمبر 03, 2010 5:38 am

Dead kings are hard to find.It is strange that thisshould be an immutable law of modern archeology. After all, when you considerall the generations of dead kings out there, whole dynasties waiting to be dugup, you would think it virtually impossible to put a shovel in the groundwithout hitting a royal grave. Since the earliestlugalsof Babylon andthe first pharaohs of Egypt, they lived and died by the thousands, each oneburying his predecessor in a millennial procession of mounds and pyramids,crypts and coffins. Even in Egypt, the burial ground of more than 30 dynastiesacross 30 centuries, a dead king is downright hard to find: Fewer than onepercent of all pharaonic burials have been found intact. As if by a writ ofnon-habeas corpus, they all seem to have disappeared.

To findanydead king is an archeologist's dream. Thinknot only of Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of King Tut, but also of HeinrichSchliemann and his find in 1876 of the so-called grave of King Agamemnon. Andthink, too, of Manolis Andronikos, who found the royal tombs of Macedonia innorthern Greece in 1977. One of these extraordinary tombs may actually be thegrave of King Philip II, the mighty unifier of Greece in the fourth centuryBC—and yet this discovery served only to remind us of the search for the tomb ofPhilip's son, the vastly more famous Alexander the Great.

Everyone from William Shakespeare to a self-professed psychicarcheologist named Stephen Schwartz has wondered where Alexander is, or was. Inthe 20th century alone there were some 150 officially sanctioned archeologicalexpeditions that searched for his tomb. Since 1805, there have been at leastseven announcements of the grave's discovery, two of them in the 1990's. Butdead kings, as ever, are hard to find.

One of the seven "finds" occurred in 1850, when an interpreterfor the Russian Consulate in Alexandria, one Ambrose Schilizzi, explored thesubterranean chambers of the Mosque of the Prophet Daniel. He claimed to havefound a regal body with a diadem, surrounded by a papyrus library;unfortunately, no one else ever saw it.

In 1888, Heinrich Schliemann received permission from theEgyptian prime minister to try his luck in the search for Alexander. LocalMuslims, however, refused to let Schliemann dig beneath the Mosque of theProphet Daniel, so the great archeologist had to leave empty-handed.

In 1960, a Polish archeological team excavated to a depth ofabout 15 meters (48') alongside the mosque, but found no tomb. Anotherexpedition dug beneath the mosque in 1991, but rival archeologists persuadedreligious authorities that every millimeter of the area had already beeninvestigated.

One legend from the Ferghana Valley of Central Asia maintainsthat Alexander's body never even made it to Egypt. Three time zones east ofAlexandria lies the ancient Silk Road town of Marghilon, where locals claimAlexander was in fact buried, all other evidence to the contrarynotwithstanding. There are also persistent rumors that Alexander's body actuallylies hidden in a secret cave somewhere in the southern Illinois heartland.

At the risk of losing count of Alexander's supposed coffins,crypts, and corpses, I must add one allegedly found in Egypt by a Greek in 1893,another by a Canadian in 1966, a third by a respectable Italian scholar, and ofcourse the "psychic discovery" of 1979. This last was the achievement of ahapless group led by Stephen Schwartz. In the desert monastery of Saint Makariosthey were shown a bag of old bones, and since the skeletons seemed to be shortone skull, they concluded that one of the dead must be John the Baptist. Theythen concluded that Alexander "might" be in the bag, too.

Others have simply claimed special knowledge of Alexander'swhereabouts. One such person was Howard Carter, the discoverer of King Tut'stomb. As an old man, in 1936, Carter gave the future King Farouk a personal tourof the Valley of the Kings. Carter concluded with an odd reference to thelong-sought tomb of Alexander, whose precise ******** he insisted that he knew,but he vowed never to tell a soul. "The secret will die with me," he said. Threeyears later, it apparently did.

Professor Achille Adriani, for many years the head of theGreco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, died before he could publish his conclusionthat the tomb was "right under our noses all the time" in the city's LatinCemetery.

After working on Adriani's notes for two decades, a colleaguethis year published his theory.

Equally strange is the story of Stelios Comoutsos, a Greekwaiter who has spent his life—when not at work at the Élite Café inAlexandria—searching for Alexander's tomb in Egypt. Comoutsos gained notorietyfor his clandestine excavations, inspired by a treasure map inherited from hisancestors. He persisted in his obsession for more than 30 years before retiringto Athens, but he too never found Alexander.

Others have found him more than once. Archeologist LianiSouvaltze and her husband announced herseconddiscovery of Alexander'stomb at the oasis of Siwa in January 1995. The news hit networks and theInternet like a Saharan sandstorm, with television reports and front-pagecoverage in newspapers the next day. The Souvaltzes won the immediate support ofthe chairman of the Egyptian antiquities organization, who visited the site anddeemed it the true tomb of Alexander.

Within days, however, he began to have his doubts. TheSouvaltzes, after all, had already cried "wolf" in 1991 when they announcedtheir first discovery of Alexander's tomb at an international archeologicalcongress. That turned out to be a Greco-Roman temple already known to otherarcheologists. In 1995, a team of Greek archeologists journeyed to Siwa toreview Souvaltze's evidence. The archeologist refused to show the scholars allher finds, and what she did show them was clearly Roman, not Ptolemaic. So far,there is no reliable information to confirm her claims.

Dead kings are still hard to find
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