CAIRO: The existence of three particular Islamic prophets is not mentioned in books from Egyptian antiquity, the country’s most renowned archaeologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has said.
He made the comments during a lecture organized by MP Ayat Elhaddad on recent archaeological discoveries.
Three prophets — Joseph, Moses and Abraham — came to Egypt, Hawass said, adding that there is a scene of a cemetery dating back to middle Egypt 3,500 years ago.
It contains a scene of 37 Asians and their president named “Absha,” which may be Abraham, Hawass said.
He added that Joseph might have been mentioned in a story in the Roman era, which details receding waters in the Nile.
Hawass said: “We do not know if it (the story) was transmitted from an ancient text or not, but the name of our master Joseph was mentioned.”
He added that recent archaeological discoveries in Saqqara dated back to the fifth and sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, which ran from about 2500-2100 B.C.
Tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom were found and indicate the presence of a huge cemetery with many important graves, he said.
The first of these tombs is that of “Khnumdjedef,” who was working as an inspector of employees, a supervisor of nobles, and a priest of the hierarchical group of King Unas — the last king of the Fifth Dynasty.
A well about 15 meters deep was also found. At the bottom of the well, a room was found containing the limestone sarcophagus of its owner, who was called “Haka Shabis.”
Many stone vessels were found around the sarcophagus.
“It became clear that this coffin had not been touched for about 4,300 years. When we opened the lid we found a mummy of a man covered in gold foil. This is considered the most complete and oldest non-royal mummy found so far,” said Hawass.
The archaeologist also talked about the curse of the pharaohs, the construction of the pyramid of King Khufu, the uncovering of pyramid worker tombs and the discovery of the lost golden city in Luxor.
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks
Updated 04 June 2023
MAKKAH: Many monuments in the Arabian Peninsula have been found bearing inscriptions in the Thamudic, Nabataean and Safaitic languages invoking evil upon those who try to tamper with or obliterate them.
One such Thamudic inscription, dating between the end of the first century AD to the fourth century AD, was found by a Saudi citizen named Khalid Al-Fraih in the Tabhar area northwest of Tabuk, which is dotted with many ancient inscriptions and monuments.
People from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses, on rocks contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by the leaders or those who with a high status.
Professor of ancient Arabic writings, Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, told Arab News that this Thamudic inscription is written on the facade of one of the mountains of Wadi Tabhar. “What is interesting is that they used curses so that evil befalls … those who distort and sabotage … it. This type of curse is well known in the Thamudic, Nabataean, Palmyrian and Safaitic inscriptions.”
People who inhabited the area centuries ago were pagans who indulged in idol worship.
“This curse was written, most likely, to intimidate and scare away those who want to destroy their god … and the purpose of intimidation by cursing is to maintain and keep what has been written,” he said.
In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.
Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, Professor of ancient Arabic writings
Al-Theeb also revealed that the writings and inscriptions on rocks were similar to published material that we see today. “If two people disagree or a problem occurred between them, they would usually attack the rock of others. In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.”
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks, contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by leaders or those who with high status.
The professor stressed that these inscriptions are very important as they depict the history of previous civilizations, and should be monitored and documented by specialists to preserve them.
International artists explore Saudi landscape in new exhibition
Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose projects explore tradition in the context of social development.
The fifth cycle of the three-month cross-cultural program brought together an international cohort of artists to develop fresh, research-driven art projects. Through architecture, music, and culture, several artists discovered traces of their own homes in the Saudi landscape.
Fahdah Althonayan, director of the education department at Misk, told Arab News: “Each cycle has its own uniqueness. Within this one, we had the opportunity to experiment with dual artists … it is a new thing that we tried with (them) to work together on their artwork, which surprised us as well.
“The variety of Saudi, khaleeji, and foreigners from different continents was amazing. It is an enriching experience.”
Ilyas Hajji, a photographer, and Nastya Indrikova, a researcher, are a Russian duo who worked on reconstructing the Hajj pilgrimage route, which was often dangerous.
Although it was modernized, many still struggled to make the trip from Russia, including the Muslim population in Dagestan during and after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The pair used items brought back from Hajj to highlight the effect on millions who were free to travel after the union’s dissolution.
Palestinian artist Areej Kaoud, who lives and works in London, took to the marketplaces of Riyadh to find a sense of belonging in her piece “Still Hungry.”
“In all these spaces, they pick things. You think that the owner is just trying to sell you things but he’s also trying to heal his own uprootedness,” Kaoud told Arab News.
Kaoud’s studio is the backdrop for a video documenting the offerings of a market staffed by diaspora from other countries, who preserve and share the traditions of back home.
The studio wall is covered with phrases including “Can one heal uprootedness with food?,” “Is being home a state of ‘non-hunger’?” and “Insatiable in diaspora.”
Liao Lihong, a Chinese artist living in Paris, merged an abacus with the shapes of a qanun and an oud to create a unique musical instrument.
“When I studied in China in elementary school, we had a class using the abacus, but now we do not use it anymore because we have calculators,” she said. “But the sound (they make) was always in my mind. The idea is when people use the abacus to calculate numbers, it also plays music."
Aleena Khan bolsters Saudi Arabia’s historical first — a female astronaut and her colleague reaching the International Space Station last month.
Her artwork “A Calling from the Moon” toys with a popular myth in Pakistan that the Adhan, the call to prayer, was heard by Neil Armstrong on the moon.
Her work draws comparisons between the moon’s landscape and an Arabian desert.
She said: “I started to draw what the material on the moon looks like and then I sourced anything that looks similar to it and took it to the desert and shot it.
“What if these landscapes were one?”
In the fragments of Riyadh’s demolished architecture, artist Dia Mrad found hope for their new beginning in his studio. The Lebanese photographer spent months researching and photographing changes in the city’s neighborhoods to create the work “Traditions of Change.”
In line with his practice, which looks to extract narratives from a built environment, he screen-printed fallen pieces of debris with photos of homes that are scheduled for demolition in Riyadh.
“The Kingdom goes through cycles of change — every 30 or 40 years, a big change happens. The latest change that’s happening is Vision 2030, and it’s such a massive change that it’s affecting everything and it’s manifesting largely within the built environment. The history of a city is embedded within its materiality,” Mrad explained.
The exhibition, which spans various mediums including installation, textile, silkscreen and Arabic writing among others, can be viewed at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh until June 10.
From Red Motorcade to grand reception: How royal wedding paid homage to Jordanian, Saudi culture
Updated 02 June 2023
DUBAI: The Middle East’s newest power couple, Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia’s Rajwa Al-Saif, tied the knot on June 1 in a ceremony and following reception that was filled with nods to both Jordanian and Saudi history, heritage, and customs.
Getting married days before the 30th wedding anniversary of the groom’s parents, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, one of the biggest royal events in Jordan since 1993 began with an elegant wedding ceremony in the manicured gardens of Zahran Palace.
The Saudi bride arrived at the palace in a 1968 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, custom-made for the late Queen Zein Al-Sharaf, the crown prince’s great grandmother.
After the religious ceremony, the couple took part in a royal motorcade procession through the streets of Amman, waving to cheering crowds as they headed to Al-Husseiniya Palace for the grand reception.
The Red Motorcade, as it is officially known, has its roots in the era of King Abdullah I, the founder of Jordan, who would arrive at significant national events atop one of a procession of white horses, accompanied by riders dressed in dark blue trousers and red blazers.
The motorcade consisted of eight bright red armed Land Rover vehicles and 11 motorcycles, but on special occasions, horse and camel riders join the line-up and the Jordanian Armed Forces Band plays military music on bagpipes.
The Land Rovers and motorcycles cordoned the main motorcade vehicle, a 1984 Range Rover, which carried the newlyweds.
The Range Rover was especially customized for the visit of the late Queen Elizabeth II to Jordan by UK company Wood and Pickett.
During the British queen’s state visit, which took place in March 1984, the vehicle was used by the late King Hussein to drive the monarch and her husband the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to Petra and other locations in the south of Jordan.
The custom Range Rover, which has been dubbed the Sheer Rover, has been elongated and features a cut-off roof. New white leather upholstery has also been installed, including four individual Recaro electric seats.
Apart from the religious ceremony, the wedding reception also incorporated Jordanian and Saudi design elements.
The crown prince and his bride were greeted by the customary zaffeh, a lively musical procession featuring drums, bagpipes, singing, and clapping.
The smiling couple were then led to the outdoor reception courtyard by a rousing military zaffeh performed by the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, sporting the traditional red and white headdress and dress uniforms.
Guests entered the reception on a path that evoked the Jordanian desert, featuring a 20-meter-long handwoven traditional Bedouin rug, created by the Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project in the village of Mukawir in Madaba.
Inside, guests were greeted by the sight of native olive trees surrounded by a dune-like display of dates, which represented both Jordanian and Saudi cultures, an ode to the newlyweds’ home countries.
The venue featured an installation of five large-scale mesh arches, inspired by the architecture of the palace and the desert landscape of Jordan’s Wadi Rum.
Meanwhile, guest seats were adorned with traditional embroidery patterns, handstitched by female artisans from Al-Karma Embroidery Center and the Jerash Women Charitable Society – established to empower local women and promote traditional handiworks.
Tables were made from natural Madaba stone and decorated with hand-blown glass vases and traditional clay pottery made by local artisans.
The decor also incorporated hand-hammered basalt stone from the north of Jordan and local seasonal flowers such as jasmine. Other design elements paid homage to Jordan’s wheat-harvesting season, which is in full swing, with elements reimagining the traditional threshing board used to shred wheat and release its grain.
European languages event in Riyadh is talk of town
Second edition of the European Night of Languages was held recently at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Riyadh
Among the participants testing out their language skills were ambassadors, members of the diplomatic community, and professional language teachers
Updated 01 June 2023
RIYADH: An evening’s celebration of languages was the talk of the town at an event hosted by the EU delegation to Saudi Arabia.
The second edition of the European Night of Languages was held recently at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Riyadh in recognition of Europe’s linguistic and cultural heritage.
The event was organized in partnership with the Riyadh language exchange, a Saudi non-profit group, the Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute, Education First, SEK International School, and the embassies of the EU member states in the Kingdom.
Among the participants testing out their language skills were ambassadors, members of the diplomatic community, and professional language teachers.
Patrick Simonnet, the EU envoy to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, said: “Languages are the most important thing when you want to reach other cultures, and showing interest in other languages is what the event is about.
“The event is not so much about learning other languages because learning another language in one evening is impossible, but it is more about interacting with cultures of different European countries. So, it is really about the exchange of cultures and bridging the gaps between our respective cultures.”
Visitors attending the event were invited to select the national flags of their spoken languages and those they wished to learn before mixing with other attendees.
Among the languages being spoken were French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Danish, Greek, Romanian, Finnish, and Dutch. Games and quizzes, an oud recital, a performance by Portuguese band Almanata, and a European culinary experience followed the event.
Mohammed Matham, co-founder of the Riyadh language exchange group, said: “We are excited to contribute to strengthening people-to-people relationships between Saudi Arabia and the European Union through the power of language learning.”
Marguerite Bickel, director general of the Alliance Francaise, said: “My goal in teaching French here is to promote the French language to support Vision 2030, especially in tourism, as there are a lot of French tourists that are very eager to discover Saudi Arabia.”
Jason Caranicas, deputy head of mission and head of the consular section at the Greek Embassy, said: “There is certainly an increase in the number of Saudis applying for a Greek visa now, and this year for the first time, there are so many direct flights from the Kingdom to several major cities in Greece, including Mykonos and Athens.”
The event was staged as part of European Diversity Month to promote the importance of languages as a bridge-builder between cultures.