Eminent Egyptologist leads team to discovery of ‘vital ramp system’ at Great Pyramids

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The ancient ramp was discovered at the site of Hatnub by researchers from the University’s Department of Archaeology. (Supplied)
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UK academic from the University of Liverpool has led a team to the monumental discovery of a 4,500-year-old ramp system at the Great Pyramids. (Yannis Gourdon/Ifao)
Updated 07 November 2018
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Eminent Egyptologist leads team to discovery of ‘vital ramp system’ at Great Pyramids

LONDON: A UK academic from the University of Liverpool has led a team to the monumental discovery of a 4,500-year-old ramp system used to transport blocks used in the construction of the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
The ancient ramp was discovered at the site of Hatnub by researchers from the University’s Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (ACE) and the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo.
Egyptologist, Dr. Roland Enmarch said: “The Hatnub quarries were the most prestigious source for Egyptian alabaster, the milky white banded stone which was much beloved of Egyptian civilization.
“Their importance today lies in the fact that they are archaeologically very well preserved.
“The quarry preserves large numbers of inscriptions left by ancient quarrying expeditions from 4500-4000 years ago. These enable us to better understand the personnel and logistics of organizing expeditions to these desert quarry sites.
“Equally remarkably, the archaeological context of the quarries is very well preserved.
“They sit in a broad landscape of Bronze Age structures related to stone extraction and transport: huts for sleeping and stone working, pathfinding cairns, ancient footpaths, and even simple dry-stone religious structures. The quarries are connected to the Nile by one of the best-preserved Bronze Age roads in Egypt.
“In our most recent season, we discovered an extremely well preserved ramp leading up out of the quarry, with traces of post holes that will enable us to reconstruct in more detail the ancient technologies of stone haulage and extraction.
“Since this ramp dates to the reign of Khufu (builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World), our research offers the exciting possibility for offering further insights into the logistics and technologies used in constructing that astonishing building.”
Along the sides of the ancient ramp are two staircases lined with postholes, to which ropes were likely tied thousands of years ago to drag the huge stone blocks.
According to the findings, such a design would have alleviated some of the burden for the workers who had to pull these huge loads.
Yannis Gourdon, from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, said: “This system is composed of a central ramp flanked by two staircases with numerous post holes.
“Using a sled which carried a stone block and was attached with ropes to these wooden posts, ancient Egyptians were able to pull up the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 percent or more.”
Dr. Roland Enmarch added: “Our joint Anglo-French mission to Hatnub aims to study all of these features of the site, in order to produce a more fully rounded picture of how quarrying worked in Ancient Egypt, and what it meant for the people involved.”


US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

Updated 34 min 8 sec ago
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US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

  • Targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them
  • Comes at a time of growing US concern about role of Hezbollah in Lebanese government

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Treasury, moving to boost pressure on Hezbollah, imposed sanctions on Wednesday against two people and three firms that Washington accuses of being involved in schemes to help the armed Shi'ite group backed by Iran evade American sanctions.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it was targeting Belgium-based Wael Bazzi because he acted on behalf of his father Mohammad Bazzi, a Hezbollah financier.

OFAC also took action against two Belgian companies and a British-based firm controlled by Bazzi.

In addition, the US Treasury designated Lebanon-based Hassan Tabaja, who it said had acted on behalf of his brother Adham Tabajha, also a Hezbollah financier. The U.S. action freezes their assets and property and prevents U.S. citizens and businesses from dealing with them.

The two men and three businesses were targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them, the Treasury said in a statement. Hezbollah is considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

"Treasury is relentlessly pursuing Hezbollah's financial facilitators by dismantling two of Hezbollah's most important financial networks," Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement.

"By targeting Hassan Tabaja and Wael Bazzi and their European-based companies, this administration is continuing to disrupt all avenues of financial support relied upon by Hezbollah," he said.

The US State Department earlier this week offered a reward of up to $10 million for information that could help disrupt Hezbollah's financing.

The move to boost pressure on the group comes at a time of growing US concern about its role in the Lebanese government. Hezbollah's regional clout has expanded as it has sent fighters to Middle East conflicts, including the war in Syria, where it supported President Bashar al-Assad.