Egypt unveils ancient funerary temple south of Cairo
Cairo, Jan 17: Egypt’s former antiquities minister and noted archaeologist Zahi Hawass on Sunday revealed details of an ancient funerary temple in a vast necropolis south of Cairo.
Hawass told reporters at the Saqqara necropolis that archaeologists unearthed the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 B.C. till 2150 B.C. Archaeologists also found a 4-meter (13-foot) long papyrus that includes texts of the Book of the Dead, which is a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld in ancient Egypt, he said. Hawass said archaeologists also unearthed burial wells, coffins and mummies dating back to the New Kingdom that ruled Egypt between about 1570 B.C. and 1069 B.C. They unveiled at least 22 burial shafts up to 12 meters (40 feet) deep, with more than 50 wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom, said Hawass, who is Egypt’s best known archaeologist.
Hawass, known for his Indiana Jones hat and TV specials on Egypt’s ancient sites, said work has been done at the site close to the Pyramid of Teti for over a decade. The discovery was the result of cooperation between the Antiquities Ministry and the Zahi Hawass Center at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. (AP)
Beetle keeps rivals off scent of food buried for offspring
Washington, Jan 17: Some beetles go to great — and disgusting — lengths for their children. They scout for a dead mouse or bird, dig a hole and bury it, pluck its fur or feathers, roll its flesh into a ball and cover it in goop — all to feed their future offspring.
Now scientists think that goo might do more than just slow decay. It also appears to hide the scent of the decomposing bounty and boosts another odor that repels competitors.
“It helps them to hide their resource from others,” said Stephen Trumbo, who studies animal behavior at the University of Connecticut and led the new research, published Thursday in The American Naturalist. “They try to keep everyone away.”
The beetles — called burying beetles — aren’t the only creatures who try to deceive their competitors or prey with subtle, sneaky tactics.
Large blue butterflies, for example, will imitate certain sounds to manipulate ants. Corpse flowers produce rotting odors to attract insect pollinators that feed on decomposing matter.
The importance of these interactions are being recognized more and more, said Alexandre Figueiredo, a biologist at University of Zurich, who was not involved in the new study.
Burying beetles and other things that feed on dead animals — including vultures, opossums and maggots — race each other to track down carcasses. (AP)