Egypt says 4,400-year-old tomb discovered outside Cairo

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A guide from the Ministry of Antiquities inspects a discovery from Egypt's antiquities authorities at the Giza plateau, the site of the three ancient pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt February 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Mostafa Wazir, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, inspects a discovery from Egypt's antiquities authorities at the Giza plateau, the site of the three ancient pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt February 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
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The discovery of an Old Kingdom tomb from Egypt's antiquities authorities is seen at the Giza plateau, the site of the three ancient pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt February 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
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A man walks near a discovery from Egypt's antiquities authorities at the Giza plateau, the site of the three ancient pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt February 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 February 2018
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Egypt says 4,400-year-old tomb discovered outside Cairo

CAIRO: Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 4,400-year-old tomb near the country’s famed pyramids at the Giza plateau just outside of Cairo, the Antiquities Ministry said Saturday, the latest discovery that authorities hope will help revive the country’s staggering tourism sector.
The tomb was found in a wider area of Giza’s western necropolis, which is known to be home to tombs from the Old Kingdom.
It likely belonged to a woman known as Hetpet, who archaeologists believe was close to ancient Egyptian royals of the 5th Dynasty.
The tomb, unveiled to the media on Saturday, is made of mud brick and includes wall paintings in good condition depicting Hetpet observing different hunting and fishing scenes.
Other scenes also depict a monkey — in pharaonic times, monkeys were commonly kept as domestic animals — picking fruit. Similar scenes have been found in other tombs belonging to the later 12th dynasty, according to the ministry’s statement. Another scene shows a monkey dancing before an orchestra.
According to the ministry, the archaeological mission behind the discovery started excavation work last October. Archaeologists have been making discoveries near the site since the 19th century, and Mostafa Al-Waziri, who led the mission, believes there is still more to be found.
“This is a very promising area. We expect to find more,” Al-Waziri told reporters at the site. “We have removed between 250-300 cubic meters of layers of earth to find the tomb.”
“What we see above the earth’s surface in Egypt doesn’t exceed 40 percent of what the core holds,” he added.
Al-Waziri believes Hetpet had another tomb in Giza’s western necropolis and said that excavation work is underway to find that one too.
Hetpet is a previously known figure in Egyptian antiquity though her mummy has not been discovered yet. Fragments of artefacts belonging to Hetpet were found in the same area back in 1909, and were moved to a museum in Berlin at the time, Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani said Saturday, speaking at the site to reporters and Western diplomats.
Despite all the discoveries already made about ancient Egypt, experts say they hope to find much more — in part thanks to modern technology — treasures still buried under the vast desert.
The area of the latest discovery is close to a new museum under construction that will house some of Egypt’s most unique and precious artifacts, including many belonging to the famed boy King Tutankhamun.
The first phase of Grand Egyptian museum is expected to be opened later this year while the grand opening is planned for 2022.
In January, Egypt placed the ancient statue of one of its most famous pharaohs, Ramses II at the museum’s atrium, which will include 43 massive statues.
Throughout 2017, the Antiquities Ministry made a string of discoveries across Egypt — including some in the southern city Luxor known for its spectacular temples and tombs spanning different dynasties of ancient Egyptian history.
Egypt hopes the inauguration of the new museum, along with the recent discoveries, will help spur a vital tourism industry that has been reeling from the political turmoil that engulfed the country following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the authorities’ struggles to rein in an insurgency by Islamic militants.


Lebanese army veterans block highways to protest budget cuts

Updated 29 min 53 sec ago
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Lebanese army veterans block highways to protest budget cuts

  • The cabinet finalized the state budget last month
  • The draft budget includes a 3% cut in army veterans’ pensions

BEIRUT: Hundreds of retired army officers burned tires blocking main highways into Lebanon’s capital on Thursday to protest cuts to their benefits as part of the 2019 draft budget.
Lawmakers are debating the state budget in parliament this week after cabinet finalized it last month, a critical test of the government’s will to launch reforms it has put off for years and start tackling the nation’s huge debt burden.
The protests point to the land mine the government faces in trying to push spending cuts, even after Lebanon’s key parties agreed the budget in a bid to stave off financial crisis.
Fears of salary and pension cuts sparked protests and strikes in recent months, but the budget did not end up including cuts to the public sector wage bill.
Lebanese veterans burned tires, sparking fires along the highway in Naameh, south of Beirut, early on Thursday.
The road was blocked for a few hours before the army arrived to partly open it up. Long lines of cars waited on either side of the main artery into the capital.
The veterans carried photos of killed army officers, whose families will also be affected by the new cuts.
“There will be closures in all of Lebanon ... The political class pushed us to this stage,” said Abbas Ammar, a first sergeant who retired in 2001. “All our lives we preserved the security of our country. These are our rights that we earned.”
The draft budget includes a 3% cut in their pensions to go to supporting health care and social services, a pension tax and a freeze on early retirement.
Lebanon has among the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at around 150% of gross domestic product (GDP). State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt servicing costs and hefty subsidies on the power sector.
The main steps to cut the projected deficit to 7.6% GDP include a tax on interest, an import tax and the government’s plan to issue low-interest treasury bonds.