Egypt to announce major archaeological discovery in Saqqara

An Egyptian archaelogical laborer is seen walking near deities in a newly discovered tomb at Saqqara necropolis, on Saturday. (AFP)
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Updated 06 September 2020

Egypt to announce major archaeological discovery in Saqqara

  • None of the coffins are thought to belong to important historical figures

CAIRO: Egypt is preparing to announce its largest archaeological discovery in recent memory, which includes wooden and gold coffins, with much of their original colour preserved.

Sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said that the Supreme Council of Antiquities working in the Saqqara archaeological area discovered a new major archaeological cache.

The discovery includes human and animal burials, a group of shabti statues and statues of the gods Isis, Nephthys and Horus, in addition to masks and canopic vessels that belong to the late age.

Sources told local websites that about 50 coffins had been discovered so far, but that number is expected to double during the excavations.

None of the coffins are thought to belong to important historical figures, and work continues on identifying who was buried in the coffins.

The sources said that the  discovery would be announced during the next few days.

The archaeological area of Saqqara, an ancient burial ground in the governorate of Giza, has witnessed many archaeological discoveries in recent years. The most important of these was the discovery of the Tomb of Wahty and the sacred cache of animals and birds, in which a large number of animal mummies were found.

Sources revealed to Al-Watan, the local newspaper, that the discovery of the animal cemetery, which began in April 2018, continued till April 2020. It was on World Heritage Day, April 18 this year that a well measuring about 120 x 90 cm and a depth of about 11 meters was discovered.

Towards the end of 2019 the Egyptian archaeological mission working in the region discovered a cache of mummies of animals and sacred birds, including five mummies of large cats, which preliminary studies suggested could be small lions.

International news agencies circulated the discovery, saying that the  animals resembled the Sphinx.

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

Updated 22 October 2020

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

  • Intelligence director: “These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries”

WASHINGTON: US officials accused Iran on Wednesday of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.
The announcement at a rare, hastily called news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the US government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.
The activities attributed to Iran would mark a significant escalation for a nation that some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage, with the announcement coming as most public discussion surrounding election interference has centered on Russia, which hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election, and China, a Trump administration adversary.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said John Ratcliffe, the government’s top intelligence official, who, along with FBI Director Chris Wray, insisted the US would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 US election and that the integrity of the election is still sound.
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the US has linked Tehran to messages sent to Democratic voters in at least four battleground states that falsely purported to be from the neo-fascist group Proud Boys and that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump.
The officials also said Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Ratcliffe said the spoofed emails were intended to hurt Trump, though he did not elaborate on how. An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in North Carolina, made no reference to the press conference but repeated a familiar campaign assertion that Iran is opposed to his reelection. He promised that if he wins another term he will swiftly reach a new accord with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Iran doesn’t want to let me win. China doesn’t want to let me win,” Trump said. “The first call I’ll get after we win, the first call I’ll get will be from Iran saying let’s make a deal.”
Both Russia and Iran also obtained voter registration information, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Asked about the emails during an online forum Wednesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she lacked specific information. “I am aware that they were sent to voters in multiple swing states and we are working closely with the attorney general on these types of things and others,” she said.
While state-backed Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated US election infrastructure in 2016, there is no evidence that Iran has ever done so.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.