Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Egyptian archaeologists discover ancient Greek insciption

Source: Middle East Times

CAIRO -- Egyptian archaeologists have discovered carvings with Greek inscriptions dating back to the era of the second century Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Tuesday.

The carvings, believed to form part of the altar of a temple, were unearthed while archaeologists were excavating in the area around Pompey's Pillar in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

"This carving is composed of six lines of writing in the Greek language on a stone which is 50 centimeters [20 inches] by 36 centimeters long," said Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of the council.

Hawass believes that the writing dates back to the ninth year of Aurelius' rule that lasted from AD 161 to 180.

It appears to be an exaltation to the God Serapis, a composite of Egyptian and Hellenistic deities, including Zeus and Helios, as part of efforts to integrate Egyptian religion with that of their Hellenic rulers.

The council also announced that works were currently underway to restore the area around Pompey's pillar, the tallest ancient monument in Alexandria.

"The project to develop the area of Pompey's pillar at a cost of E£10 million [about $1.8 million] will be finished within the next year," said Mohammed Abdel Maqsud, a senior official of the council.

The 27-meter-high (90-foot) granite column is located on Alexandria's ancient acropolis and was originally part of the temple of Serapis.

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