Friday the 13th Superstitions Rooted in Bible and More

June 24, 2011 · Posted in Church History, Friday the 13th · Comments Off on Friday the 13th Superstitions Rooted in Bible and More 

This year Friday the 13th superstitions get a break—luckily for triskaidekaphobes.

friday 13th 2010 last supper

Legendary traitor Judas (fourth from left) is said to have been the 13th guest at Jesus’ Last Supper.

Painting by Leonardo da Vinci via Getty Images

John Roach

for National Geographic News

Updated May 13, 2011

They date back to at least ancient Roman times, but Friday the 13th superstitions won’t be getting much of a workout this year. Luckily for triskaidekaphobia sufferers, 2011—like 2010 before it—has only one Friday the 13th.

By contrast, 2009 boasted three Friday the 13ths—the maximum possible in a year, at least as long as we continue to mark time with the Gregorian calendar, which Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Catholic Church to adopt in 1582.

“You can’t have any [years] with none, and you can’t have any with four, because of our funny calendar,” said Underwood Dudley, a professor emeritus of mathematics at DePauw University in Indiana, and author of Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought.

The calendar works just as its predecessor, the Julian calendar, did, with a leap year every four years. But the Gregorian calendar skips leap years on century years except those divisible by 400. For example, there was no leap year in 1900, but there was one in 2000. This trick keeps the calendar in tune with the seasons.

The result is an ordering of days and dates that repeats itself every 400 years, Dudley noted. As time marches through the order, some years appear with three Friday the 13ths. Other years have two or, like 2011, one.

Curious Calendar Encourages Friday the 13th Superstitions

“It’s just that curious way our calendar is constructed, with 28 days in February and all those 30s and 31s,” Dudley said.

(Related: “Leap Year: How the World Makes Up for Lost Time”.)

When the 400-year order is laid out, another revelation occurs: The 13th falls on Friday more often than any other day of the week. “It’s just a funny coincidence,” Dudley said.

Richard Beveridge, a mathematics instructor at Clatsop Community College in Oregon, authored a 2003 paper in the journal Mathematical Connections on the mathematics of Friday the 13th.

He noted the 400-year cycle is further broken down into periods of either 28 or 40 years.

“At the end of every cycle you get a year with three Friday the 13ths the year before the last year in the cycle … and you also get one on the tenth year of all the cycles,” he said.

2009, for example, was the tenth year of the cycle that started in 2000.

Friday the 13th Superstitions Linked to Triskaidekaphobia

Friday the 13th superstitions are rooted in ancient bad-luck associations with the number 13 and the day Friday, said Donald Dossey, a folklore historian and author of Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun.

The two unlucky entities ultimately combined to make one superunlucky day.

Dossey traces the fear of the number 13—aka, triskaidekaphobia—to a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, Norse mythology’s heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous god Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.

“Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day,” Dossey said.

There is also a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle said to have betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper. (See “Lost Gospel Revealed; Says Jesus Asked Judas to Betray Him.”)

As for Friday, it’s well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Also, some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant is a belief that Abel was slain by his brother Cain on Friday the 13th.

Meanwhile, in ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil.

In modern times, many triskaidekaphobes point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

Thomas Fernsler, an associate policy scientist in the Mathematics and Science Education Resource Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, said the number 13 suffers because of its position after 12.

According to Fernsler, numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus, he pointed out.

Thirteen’s association with bad luck, he said, “has to do with just being a little beyond completeness. The number becomes restless or squirmy”—not unlike some folks with triskaidekaphobia today.

Paralyzed by Friday the 13th Superstitions

Some people are so paralyzed by Friday the 13th superstitions that they refuse to fly, buy a house, or act on a stock tip, for example.

“It’s been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day, because people will not fly or do business they would normally do,” said Dossey, the historian, who is also the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.

Among other services, Dossey’s organization counsels clients on how to conquer Friday the 13th superstitions, which fuel a phobia that he estimates afflicts 17 to 21 million people in the United States.

Symptoms range from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks. The latter may cause people to reshuffle schedules or miss an entire day’s work.

When it comes to bad luck of any kind, Richard Wiseman—a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, England—has found that people who consider themselves unfortunate are more likely to believe in superstitions associated with bad luck.

Supersitious people’s “beliefs and behavior are likely to be part of a much bigger worldview,” he said. “They will believe [both] that luck is a magical force and that it can ruin their lives.”

Triskaidekaphobia’s Architectural Effects

Triskaidekaphobia can be seen even in how societies are built. More than 80 percent of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 1/2. In France socialites known as the quatorziens(“fourteeners”) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

DePauw University’s Dudley said nobody really knows why Friday the 13th has spawned so many superstitions.

“You’ve got to have something that is unlucky, and somehow they hit on 13,” he said. “But all these explanations are just moonshine.”

 

 

History buffs gather as Gettysburg prepares for Civil War anniversary

June 24, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on History buffs gather as Gettysburg prepares for Civil War anniversary 

Simon Mann
June 25, 2011 – 12:14AM

GETTYSBURG is not where you expect to find Adolf Hitler’s monogrammed, silver grooming set – brush, comb and hand-held mirror. Nor Eva Braun’s chemise.
art wide kennedy

Nor, for that matter, a shrine to John F. Kennedy that includes a cane rocking chair, made to order for a commander-in-chief with a crook back.

But there they are on display in the little Museum of History on Baltimore Street, along with thousands of Civil War artefacts – weapons, shrapnel, bullets, uniforms and manuscripts, even Abraham Lincoln’s wallet – that provide a reassuring geographical reference.

The eclectic hoard evolved from proprietor Erik Dorr’s early fascination with history.

At age eight, he saved $50 during a summer mowing lawns and, instead of buying baseball cards like his peers, he acquired a trunkload of mementoes taken from captured German soldiers in World War II by his school’s cleaner.

”My parents thought I was off my rocker,” he says, sheepishly.

But Dorr’s destiny was marked: he became a collector and then dealer, finally managing to lay his hands on some of the trove famously looted by US soldiers from Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s lair in the Bavarian Alps.

In the heart of this Civil War precinct, the 43-year-old’s collection – displayed in the home that once belonged to his great-grandparents – might seem incongruous, especially as America commemorates the sesquicentenary of those bloodied and brutal 19th-century hostilities.

But history is the currency of Gettysburg, where the business of collecting and commemoration comes in various guises, from the intriguing to the classy and the kitsch, and where Lincoln’s face features on everything from plaques to baseballs, to packs of candy.

Yet for the town that is the most synonymous with the war, Gettysburg’s big moment is still two years away as events marking the 150th anniversary unfold to the timetable of the war, plotting a course from the first engagement of the war at Fort Sumter to the final battle at Appomattox.

Gettysburg’s turn comes in 2013, although those fateful first three days of July fall this year on a weekend, adding a buzz to the 148th anniversary re-enactments.

Preparations are apparent: footpaths are being relaid in the main street and workers tend the battlefield surrounds in the muggy early summer as tour groups navigate the 1300 monuments and memorials in buses, on horseback, bikes and Segways.

”It’s just starting to build,” says a bartender of the annual influx, a sepia-toned battlefield photograph displayed behind her that is actually the door to a wide fridge. ”It’s been busy but it’s gonna get a helluva lot busier,” she adds.

At the nearby American History Store, where generals Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee are kings on a Civil War chess board, a sales assistant has detected an upswing, too. ”I’ve noticed a lot more people already this year, so 2013 is going to be crazy.”

Just how ”crazy” is difficult to fathom, because already at the new Visitor Centre and Museum, busloads of tourists swarm the gift shop like locusts, stripping it of Gettysburg key-rings, Gettysburg cups, Gettysburg playing cards, Gettysburg teddies and T-shirts … pens, peanuts, prints and paraphernalia, as the Battle Hymn of the Republic is piped through the sound system.

The town centre, meanwhile, seems more suited to genuine history buffs, where relics are stocked by various dealerships, including one on Steinwehr Avenue where the vendor is retelling with gusto the moment when a Russian tourist slapped roubles on the counter and tried to make off with a $3000 revolver.

Here a rusty cannon ball, still in one piece, is selling for $US475, bayonets for $US750 and an 1861 Enfield rifle for $US5500.

The good burghers of Gettysburg have harvested tonnes of munitions from the battlefield in the decades since the two armies collided there, putting the Pennsylvania town forever on the map.

The combatants fired more than 600 tonnes of metal over the three days, as they soaked the battlefield with the blood of 10,000 dead and another 30,000 wounded.

Some had died instantly, wrote a Union soldier from Wisconsin. ”Others had struggled fiercely with death, tearing the earth with their hands, dying at last with expressions of the most horrible agony lingering on their distorted features.”

Months later, America’s first National Cemetery would be consecrated on six hectares of land in the middle of Gettysburg.

The president attended but was not billed as the main speaker. Instead, Lincoln was invited to make ”a few appropriate remarks”. Which he did, for just two minutes.

And the rest is history.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/history-buffs-gather-as-gettysburg-prepares-for-civil-war-anniversary-20110624-1gjl4.html

 

Census Shows Whites Lose US Majority Among Babies

June 23, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Census Shows Whites Lose US Majority Among Babies 

By HOPE YEN Associated Press
WASHINGTON June 23, 2011 (AP)
census_babies

For the first time, minorities make up a majority of babies in the U.S., part of a sweeping race change and growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies.

Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women — made up of mostly single mothers — now exceeds African-American households with married couples, a sign of declining U.S. marriages overall but also continuing challenges for black youths without involved fathers.

The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and householder relationships such as same-sex couples.

Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.

“We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color,” said Laura Speer, coordinator of the Kids Count project for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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“It’s clear the younger generation is very demographically different from the elderly, something to keep in mind as politics plays out on how programs for the elderly get supported,” she said. “It’s critical that children are able to grow to compete internationally and keep state economies rolling.”

Currently, non-Hispanic whites make up just under half of all children 3 years old, which is the youngest age group shown in the Census Bureau’s October 2009 annual survey, its most recent. In 1990, more than 60 percent of children in that age group were white.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the data, said figures in the 2009 survey can sometimes be inexact compared with the 2010 census, which queries the entire nation. But he said when factoring in the 2010 data released so far, minorities outnumber whites among babies under age 2.

The preliminary figures are based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey as well as the 2009 American Community Survey, which sampled 3 million U.S. households to determine that whites made up 51 percent of babies younger than 2. After taking into account a larger-than-expected jump in the minority child population in the 2010 census, the share of white babies falls below 50 percent.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia now have white populations below 50 percent among children under age 5 — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Mississippi. That’s up from six states and the District of Columbia in 2000.

At current growth rates, seven more states could flip to “minority-majority” status among small children in the next decade: Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, South Carolina and Delaware.

By contrast, whites make up the vast majority of older Americans — 80 percent of seniors 65 and older and roughly 73 percent of people ages 45-64. Many states with high percentages of white seniors also have particularly large shares of minority children, including Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Florida.

‘I’m out. I’m fine,’ artist Ai Weiwei says after he’s freed on bail in China

June 22, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on ‘I’m out. I’m fine,’ artist Ai Weiwei says after he’s freed on bail in China 

latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-china-artist-20110623,0,4814130.story

ai weiweiAcerbic, dissident artist Ai Weiwei languished for more than two months in prison without charges before being abruptly released by Chinese authorities. The government, which may now pursue a civil case against Ai, cites his ‘good attitude,’ while others say international pressure played a role.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times

11:52 AM PDT, June 22, 2011

Reporting from Beijing

After languishing for more than two months in prison without formal charges, China’s most famous dissident artist was abruptly released on bail late Wednesday.

“I’m out. I’m fine,” Ai Weiwei wrote in text messages to friends and supporters about midnight after returning to the art studio where he makes his home in northeastern Beijing.

The official New China News Agency reported that Ai had been freed “because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.”

The 54-year-old artist has been reported to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, although he was not known to be seriously ill. More likely the release was a belated response by Chinese authorities to the international reproach that followed Ai’s arrest April 3 at the Beijing Airport.

While dozens of others have been arrested over the last six months in a crackdown on activists, it was Ai — by dint of his stature in the art world — who inspired petitions and demonstrations across the world. In London, the Tate Gallery installed large black letters across its facade reading, “Free Ai Weiwei.” In New York, a Cuban artist used a slide projector at night to cast the artist’s face onto the Chinese consulate.

Ai had not been formally charged, although the state press reported that his company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., had evaded “huge amounts” of taxes. In Wednesday night’s release, New China quoted police saying that “the decision [to release Ai] comes also in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded.”

The wording suggests that Chinese authorities might switch their case against Ai to a civil proceeding, which would allow them to back away gracefully from a situation that has brought great embarrassment. Ai’s attorney, Liu Xiaoyuan, wrote Tuesday night on Twitter that they were still awaiting an accounting from tax authorities of how much money was supposed to be owed. In messages to supporters, Ai said that he was fine, but unable to give interviews under the conditions of his release.

His assistant, Du Yanping, confirmed that Ai had returned home and reported with some satisfaction about her pot-bellied boss: “He got slimmer.”

Human Rights Watch applauded Ai’s release, adding its own caveats.

“The public announcement of his release signals that the Chinese government has had to respond to international pressure and that the cost/benefit ratio of continuing to detain him was no longer tenable,” said Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher with the organization, in a statement. “Sadly, other Chinese citizens less well-known than Ai Weiwei who have been forcibly disappeared since mid-February remain incommunicado, whereabouts unknown and at high risk of torture.”

Ai, a provocative artist and one of the designers of the Bird’s Nest stadium in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in recent years had become one of the most acerbic critics of the Chinese Communist Party. Much of his latest work has revolved around the tragedy of thousands of children killed when shoddily built schools collapsed during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province.

barbara.demick@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

 

Oceans heading for mass extinctions, experts warn

June 21, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Oceans heading for mass extinctions, experts warn 
Great Barrier Reef Park / AFP – Getty Images file
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43479398/ns/world_news-world_environment/#

Thissection of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in
2009 saw “bleaching” of coralcaused by warmer
than normal ocean temperatures. Bleaching can kill
reefs if it is prolonged.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

coral-bleaching
WASHINGTON— Mass extinctions of species
in the world’s oceans are inevitable if current
trends of overfishing, habitat loss, global
warming and pollution continue, a panel of
renowned marine scientists warned Tuesday.

The combination of problems suggests there’s
a brewing worldwide die-off of species that
would rival past mass extinctions, the 27
scientists said in a preliminary report
presented to the UnitedNations

.

Vanishing species — from sea turtles to coral

— would upend the ocean’s ecosystem. Fish
are the main source of protein for a fifth of the
world’s population and the seas cycle oxygen
and help absorb carbon dioxide, the main
greenhouse gas from human activities.

“Things seem to be going wrong on several
different levels,” said Carl Lundin, director of
global marine programs at the International
Union for Conservation of Nature, which
helped produce the report with the
International Programme on the State of the
Ocean.

Some of the changes affecting the world’s seas
— which have been warned about individually
in the past — are happening faster than the
worst case scenarios that were predicted just
a few years ago, the report said.

“It was a more dire report than any of us
thought because we look at our own little
issues,” Lundin said. “When you put them all
together, it’s a pretty bleak situation.”

Climate and coral
Coral deaths alone would be considered a
mass extinction, according to study chief
author Alex Rogers of the University of
Oxford. A single bleaching event in 1998 killed
one-sixth of the world’s tropical coralreefs

.
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Oceans heading for mass extinctions, experts warn
Scientist: Situation is ‘more dire’ than any of us thought
Lundin pointed to deaths of 1,000-year-old
coral in the Indian Ocean and called it “really
unprecedented.”

“Not only are we already experiencing severe
declines in many species to the point of
commercial extinction in some cases, and an
unparalleled rate of regional extinctions of
habitat types (e.g. mangroves and seagrass
meadows), but we now face losing marine
species and entire marine ecosystems, such as
coral reefs, within a single generation,” the
experts said.

The chief causes for extinctions at the moment
are overfishing and habitat loss, but global
warming

is “increasingly adding to this,” the report
said.

Carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil
fuels ends up sinking in the oceans, which
then become more acidic, devastating
sensitive coral reefs. Warmer ocean
temperatures also are shifting species from
their normal habitats, Rogers said. Non-native
species moving into new areas can cause
havoc to those ecosystems.

Jelle Bijma, of the Alfred Wegener Institute,
said the seas faced a “deadly trio” of threats of
higher temperatures, acidification and lack of
oxygen that had featured in several past mass
extinctions.

Runoff from fertilizers into rivers and seas has
reduced oxygen in those areas, creating
dozens of “dead zones” around the globe.
The U.S. Geological Survey earlier this month
said it expects the dead zone from the
Mississippi River to set a record when it builds l
ater this summer due to flooding runoff.

“From a geological point of view, mass
extinctions happen overnight, but on human
timescales we may not realize that we are in
the middle of such an event,” Bijma wrote.

Chemicals and plastics from daily life also are
causing problems for sea creatures, the report
said. Overall, the world’s oceans just cannot
bounce back from problems — such as oil
spills — like they used to because of all the
compounding factors, scientists said.

Confounding the most dire predictions, the
GulfofMexico

has bounced back from last year’s major oil
spill, but it is still dealing with the growing
“dead zone” and above average sea
temperatures.

Similar ‘stressors’ in past extinctions
Describing the multiple events affecting the
world’s oceans as high intensity “stressors,”
the experts said similar compounding led to
the previous five mass extinction events in the
past 600 million years — most recently when
the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago,
apparently after an asteroid struck.

Data: The rise and fall of Earth’s
species (on this page)

The conclusions follow an international
meeting this spring in England to discuss the
fate of the world’s oceans. A full report will be
published later this year, the panel said.

Lundin said that “some of these things are
reversible if we change our behavior.”

Overfishing is the easiest for governments to
address, the experts said.

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“Unlike climate change, it can be directly,
immediately and effectively tackled by policy
change,” said William Cheung of the University
of East Anglia. “Overfishing is now estimated
to account for over 60 percent of the known
local and global extinction of marine fishes.”

Among examples of overfishing are the
Chinese bahaba. Its swim bladder is desired in
Asia as a medicinal product, and the cost per
kilo (2.2 pounds) has risen from a few dollars
in the 1930s to $20,000-$70,000 today.

Listed as critically endangered, the bahaba is
just one of more than 500 marine species
threatened by overfishing, Cheung noted. “The
only chance for many of these species to
recover is to stop overfishing and protect
them so that the populations can rebuild,” he
added.

“If action is not taken immediately, our
generation will see many more species follow
the footsteps of the Chinese bahaba,” Cheung
said.

Steve Murawski, a University of South Florida
professor and previously chief science advisor f
or the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service,
said “it’s difficult to judge the veracity of the
results or the scientific support” for the
findings because the full report hasn’t been
published.

But he noted that in the United States “a strong
set of management requirements backed by
the force of law have resulted in an end to
domestic overfishing.”

“This is of course a very hopeful sign because
the USA is such an important fishing nation,”
he added. “Is the record commensurate
globally? No it is not, and thus I would
certainly support” the panel’s advice to reduce

global fishing “to levels commensurate with
long-term sustainability of fisheries and the
marine environment.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this
report.

Pyramid Hieroglyphs Likely Engineering Numbers

June 19, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Pyramid Hieroglyphs Likely Engineering Numbers 

http://news.discovery.com/history/pyramid-hieroglyph-markings-archaeologist-110607.html

By Rossella Lorenzi | Tue Jun 7, 2011 12:19 PM ET

Mysterious hieroglyphs written in red paint on the floor of a hidden chamber in Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza are just numbers, according to a mathematical analysis of the 4,500-year-old mausoleum.

Shown to the world last month, when the first report of a robot exploration of the Great Pyramid was published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l’Egypte (ASAE), the images revealed features that have not been seen by human eyes since the construction of the monument.

Researchers were particularly intrigued by three red ochre figures painted on the floor of a hidden chamber at the end of a tunnel deep inside the pyramid.

NEWS: Pyramid-Exploring Robot Reveals Hidden Hieroglyphs

“There are many unanswered questions that these images raise,” Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, told Discovery News. “Why is there writing in this space? What does the writing say? There appears to be a masonry cutting mark next to the figures: why was it not cut along this line?” Richardson wondered.

invisible soldier
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Luca Miatello, an independent researcher who specializes on ancient Egyptian mathematics, believes he has some answers.

“The markings are hieratic numerical signs. They read from right to left, meaning 100, 20, 1. The builders simply recorded the total length of the shaft: 121 cubits,” Miatello told Discovery News.

The royal cubit, the ancient Egyptian unit of measurement used in the construction of the pyramid, was between 52.3 and 52.5 cm (20.6 to 20.64 inches) in length, and was subdivided into seven palms of four digits (four fingers) each, making it a 28-part measure.

According to Miatello, who has written about the pyramid’s numerical patterns in the journal Ankh, and also more recently in PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, multiples of 7, 9 and 11 cubits occur frequently in the design of the Great Pyramid.

Built for the pharaoh Cheops, also known as Khufu, the Great Pyramid is the largest of a family of three pyramids on the Giza plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo and has long been rumored to have hidden passageways leading to secret chambers.Archaeologists have long puzzled over the purpose of four narrow shafts deep inside the pyramid since they were first discovered in 1872.

NEWS: Great Pyramid May Hold Two Hidden Chambers

Two shafts, extend from the upper, or “King’s Chamber” and exit into open air.

But the lower two, one on the south side and one on the north side in the so-called “Queen’s Chamber” disappear within the structures, deepening the pyramid mystery.

Robots have previously explored and sent back pictures from these 8-inch-square shafts, indicating that both shafts are blocked by a stone door. These stones are approximately equidistant (63.6 meters) from the Queen’s Chamber.

The new robot, named Djedi after the magician who Khufu consulted when planning the layout of this pyramid, has gone further than anyone has ever been before in the monument.

The project, led by Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, began with the exploration of the southern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber.

The robot was able to climb inside the walls of the shaft while carrying a bendy camera, small enough to fit through a small hole in a stone door at the end of the tunnel.

This gave researchers a clear view into the chamber beyond. It was at that time that the micro snake camera sent back images of 4,500-year-old markings.

“The floor of the chamber has a red ochre mason’s line running parallel to the shaft from just beyond the rear of the first blocking stone to the second blocking stone,” Hawass and colleagues write in ASAE.

“There is also a black mark where the red line meets the second blocking stone. To the right of, and at approximately 45 degrees to the red line are three red ochre figures,” they added.

According to Miatello, the red markings and figures were made by the workers during the pyramid construction.

“Precise mathematical rules were followed in the design of the pyramid’s tunnels,” Miatello said.

“We have considered several interpretations of the painted figures, including the possibility that they record the length of the shaft. Our strategy is to keep an open mind and only draw conclusions when we have completed our work. However, if this really is a written measurement of the shaft length then it’s very exciting,” project mission manager Shaun Whitehead, of the exploration company Scoutek UK, told Discovery News.

Hawass and colleagues agree that the markings are mason’s marks or hieratic characters.

“The two main figures are similar to the hieratic number 21,” they write in their report.

According to James P. Allen, a Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and Chair of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University, the figures can indeed show the numbers indicated by Miatello.

“The signs are not easy to read, but Dr. Miatello’s reading is entirely plausible,” Allen, author of “The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, Writings from the Ancient World” and a leading expert on hieroglyphics, told Discovery News.

The Djedi project researchers expect to carry additional analysis of the red ochre markings in August, when the robot, equipped with a higher resolution bendy camera will return to the pyramid for further surveys.

 

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