This beautiful golden earring, decorated with figures of goats, was one of a trove of jewelry pieces that were wrapped in cloth and stuffed into a jar discovered by archaeologists at the Tel Meggido dig in Israel. When the team flushed the jar’s interior with water, earrings, a ring, and carnelian beads came tumbling out.
They aren’t sure why the jewelry was in the jar, but they posit that it could have been hidden there by the inhabitants of the home where the jar was found for safekeeping. The layer of soil where the find occurred dates from the 11th century BCE, a period when Meggido was under Egyptian rule, and the team believes the jewelry is either of Egyptian origin or inspired by Egyptian designs.
Image courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Two wooden coffin lids, painted with Egyptian symbols, were recently seized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Carbon dating of the lids has revealed that they are truly ancient: one is between 2,800 and 3,000 years old, dating from the Iron Age, the other between 3,600 and 3,400 years old, from the late Bronze Age. Read More
Once the Egyptian government cut the Internet, the protests in Tahrir Square were joined by protests across the country.
What’s the News: Social networking has been a star of the Arab Spring revolutions. People can’t stop talking about how Twitter and Facebook helped protestors organize, and when Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak suddenly cut access to the Internet and cell phone service on January 28th, many wondered how the protestors would share information and keep momentum. But as it turned out, depriving people of information had an explosive effect—far from the epicenter at Tahrir Square in Cairo, so many grassroots protests sprung up that the military was brought in. Two weeks later, Mubarak resigned.
Using the Egyptian revolution as a case study, a new paper makes the case that theories of group dynamics explain why access to information can actually have a quenching effect on revolutions, and argues that regimes that shut information sources down are signing their own death warrants.
Is that an alpha or a beta?
Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. Taking a leaf from reCaptcha‘s book, archaeologists from the Egypt Exploration Society and Oxford University have taken a voluminous store of ancient Egyptian papyri online in a bid to have web users transcribe the fragments, which come from a lost city known to its inhabitants as the City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish.
When last we covered the hacking group Anonymous, its members were trying to bring down the websites of companies like PayPal and Mastercard that had withdrawn support from WikiLeaks under government pressure. Now hackers have a new political target: Groups like Anonymous are launching attacks to bring down government websites in Egypt and Yemen as a show of solidarity with the protesters there.
The website of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has become inaccessible as Yemenis stage anti-government protests. It follows attacks on the websites of Egypt’s ruling party and ministry of information this week. Last month Anonymous shut down some Tunisian websites, including the government’s official site. [BBC News]
Anonymous managed to bring down the Ministry of Information site in Egypt, as well as that of President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. As was the case during the war over WikiLeaks, Anonymous hackers’ primary weapon has been distributed denial of service attacks.
As usual, Conan O’Brien may have said it best: “If you want people to stay at home and do nothing, you should turn the internet back on.”
The Egyptian government seemingly has learned that shutting down the Internet is no way to get protesters to be quiet, and today it turned the Web back on after protests succeeded in spite of the five-day blackout.
“Egyptian Internet providers returned to the Internet at 09:29:31 UTC (11:29 a.m. Cairo time),” said a blog post by Net monitoring firm Renesys today. Indeed, a variety of Egyptian Web sites, including the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the Central Bank of Egypt, and the Egyptian Stock Exchange are available. And Twitter activity relating to Egypt is surging. [CNET]
Cell phones are coming back online for many people, too, though it’s not clear yet when everything will be fully restored.
In the end, the government’s attempt to kill the Internet proved a dismal failure. The world rallied to give disconnected Egyptians ways to work around the blackout, and the suppression of free speech fueled the fire of protest.
With the world focused on the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, archaeologists have raised the alarm about Egypt’s ancient treasures. Last Friday, looters destroyed some artifacts in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, home of over 120,000 priceless artifacts, including many from Tutankhamun’s tomb. Other museums have also been ransacked–but in one uplifting moment, citizens and army personnel banded together to save Egypt’s past.
Although some of the Egyptian Museum looters were reportedly apprehended, the damage was already done: the criminals beheaded two mummies thought to be pharaohs, reduced to rubble a statue of the young King Tut astride a panther, and damaged many other treasures.
The country’s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, described the damage in a series of statements, including an update that was posted to his blog on Sunday. He said looters ransacked the museum’s gift shop and went on to vandalize authentic treasures as well. More than a dozen display cases were broken into, including one that contained the Tut statuette. “The criminals found a statue of the king on a panther, broke it, and threw it on the floor,” Hawass wrote. “I am very thankful that all of the antiquities that were damaged in the museum can be restored, and the tourist police caught all of the criminals that broke into it.” [MSNBC]
Supplies are dwindling, journalists are being arrested, and protests continue in Egypt today, with a mass demonstration planned for tomorrow. And still, the nation is Internet silent—almost. We remarked on Friday about this historic act of government internet censorship, but just how did the Egyptian government manage to shut down nearly all Internet communication coming out of the country?
It wasn’t a “kill switch,” experts say—the Egyptian government didn’t push a button and take down the country’s Internet service providers. Rather, Egyptian ISPs all must have licenses with the state and follow the government’s regulations, however draconian they may be. So if the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority called and told them to shut down, they didn’t have much choice.
That comports with the data published by Renesys, a net monitoring firm, which saw individual ISPs go dark within minutes of one another. “First impressions: this sequencing looks like people getting phone calls, one at a time, telling them to take themselves off the air,” wrote Renesys’s chief scientist James Cowie. “Not an automated system that takes all providers down at once; instead, the incumbent leads and other providers follow meekly one by one until Egypt is silenced.” [Wired]
The fact that so much censorship happened so quickly is a result of the relative simplicity of Egypt’s Internet, Cowie said in an interview with Scientific American.
“If you look at a complex system such as those in the United States or Canada, you might ask, ‘How many phone calls would I have to make to shut it down?’ It probably wouldn’t be possible. Most of the people you would call operate independent of the government and wouldn’t even listen to you. In a place like Egypt there’s a lot less diversity in that ecosystem. There were just a few key providers, they’re all licensed by the government.” [Scientific American]
You know it’s getting serious when people aren’t using Facebook. The social networking giant now says it has noticed significantly reduced traffic from Egypt as a result of the Egyptian government’s attempt to shut down its country’s Internet this week to quash political protests. Though we’ve seen governments attempt to censor the Internet in times of uprising before (like during the 2009 Iranian election), Forbes says this is “the first time in modern history a major Internet economy is being shut down.”
Mobile phone networks have reportedly been disrupted, leaving millions without access to text messaging or phone calls. The country’s key Internet Service Providers are also off the air, says James Cowie, the chief technology officer of Internet monitoring firm Renesys on his blog. “Virtually all of Egypt’s Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide. [Forbes]
Indeed, Cowie says, this is something new compared to other government internet censorship:
Similar demonstrations and Web outages are occurring in Tunisia, though Cowie noted that the Egypt Internet downtime “is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow.” [PC Magazine]
Thoughts of a government being able to just “turn off the Internet” has people in other countries frightened, but it was particularly easy to achieve in Egypt.
Kamil crater, at only about 150 feet wide and 50 feet deep, may not break any size records–but what the Egyptian crater lacks in range it makes up for with cleanliness. In an paper published yesterday in Science, researchers say that its “pristine” impact, spotted in 2009 during a Google Earth survey, makes the crater an ideal model to understand similar impacts.
The best place to see a clean crater? Rocky or icy planets without an atmosphere. Earth’s weather quickly erodes a crater’s structures, making it difficult to determine how exactly a meteorite struck. The Kamil crater, study leader Luigi Folco says, has avoided this fate:
“This crater is really a kind of beauty because it’s so well-preserved that it will tell us a lot about small-scale meteorite impacts on the Earth’s crust…. It’s so nice. It’s so neat. There is something extraordinary about it.” [Space.com]