This is the rope seal securing the doors of Tutankhamun's tomb, unbroken for more than 3200 years until shortly after Harry Burton took this photo in 1923. A description from National Geographic:
Still intact in 1923 after 32 centuries, rope secures the doors to the second of four nested shrines in Tutankhamun's burial chamber. The necropolis seal -- depicting captives on their knees and Anubis, the jackal god of the dead -- remains unbroken, a sign that Tut's mummy lies undisturbed inside.
How did the rope last for so long? Rare Historical Photos explains:
Rope is one of the fundamental human technologies. Archaeologists have found two-ply ropes going back 28,000 years. Egyptians were the first documented civilization to use specialized tools to make rope. One key why the rope lasted so long wasn't the rope itself, it was the aridity of the air in the desert. It dries out and preserves things. Another key is oxygen deprivation. Tombs are sealed to the outside. Bacteria can break things down as long as they have oxygen, but then they effectively suffocate. It's not uncommon to find rope, wooden carvings, cloth, organic dyes, etc. in Egyptian pyramids and tombs that wouldn't have survived elsewhere in the world.
Archaeologists are using infrared satellite images to find several undiscovered pyramids and ancient settlements in Egypt.
The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pin-point objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth's surface.
Infra-red imaging was used to highlight different materials under the surface.
Ancient Egyptians built their houses and structures out of mud brick, which is much denser than the soil that surrounds it, so the shapes of houses, temples and tombs can be seen.
Be sure to click through to see some of the satellite images...the scale and the amount of detail uncovered is amazing. (via @tomcoates)
According to DNA analysis described in the latest issue of National Geographic, Tutankhamun's parents were most likely brother and sister, which may have contributed to his early death.
In my view, however, Tutankhamun's health was compromised from the moment he was conceived. His mother and father were full brother and sister. Pharaonic Egypt was not the only society in history to institutionalize royal incest, which can have political advantages. But there can be a dangerous consequence. Married siblings are more likely to pass on twin copies of harmful genes, leaving their children vulnerable to a variety of genetic defects. Tut ankhamun's malformed foot may have been one such flaw. We suspect he also had a partially cleft palate, another congenital defect. Perhaps he struggled against others until a severe bout of malaria or a leg broken in an accident added one strain too many to a body that could no longer carry the load.
It's likely that Tut's wife was his half-sister as well.
If the translation to English is to be trusted, Egypt's strongest man generates 240 horsepower, is medically exempt from working because he might hurt someone in the workplace, and, well, it just gets better from there. Oh, and HE'S NEVER SLEPT. (via delicious ghost)
BLDGBLOG has some photos of luxury hotels that were abandoned mid-building.
With images by Sabine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche of Haubitz+Zoche, the show looks at "the concrete skeletons of five-star hotel complexes" abandoned on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They are resorts that never quite happened, then, with names like Sultan's Palace and the Magic Life Imperial. This makes them "monuments to failed investment."