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Wednesday 13th December
Egypt Facts
The Egyptian desert has not always been desert: in some areas marine fossils can be found.

Wadi Al-Hitan, Whale Valley, in the Western Desert of Egypt, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. The Valley contains fossils portraying the transition of a land-based animal to an ocean-going whale.

Fossilized remains of a plant eating dinosaur have been found south-west of Cairo. The dinosaur was one of the largest creatures known to have lived.

Farming in Nabta Playa, in southern Egypt, dates back to 6000 BC.

A small stone circle in Nabta Playa is estimated to have been built a thousand years before Stonehenge in England.

Merimde Beni Salama was an early agricultural settlement in the Nile Delta dating back to around 3900 BC.

Egyptian civilization began along the banks of the River Nile.

Narmer, a king who reigned about five thousand years ago, contributed to the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The boat found near the pyramid of Cheops is the oldest complete boat in the world - it is believed to be four and a half thousand years old and had been dismantled into over a thousand pieces before being buried.

The Egyptians were the first people known to have separated copper from its ore, about four thousand years ago.

Over three thousand years ago the Egyptians were skilled in the use of geometry to plan the layout of their buildings. It is believed that astronomy may have been significant in the alignment of their pyramids and temples.

The Great Pyramid is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Pharos of Alexandria, a lighthouse 140 m high, was another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Egyptians needed engineering and mathematical skills to control the Nile flooding to ensure the best irrigation and fertilization of their land.

Today the flow of the Nile, the world's longest river, is regulated by the Aswan High Dam.

The name Egypt comes from the Greek name for the country: Egyptos.

Hypatia (born around 370 AD) was the first woman to make a recorded contribution to mathematics.

Experiments with steam power were carried out by Hiero in Egypt at least eighteen hundred years ago.

The Rosetta Stone, discovered during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, carved in 196 BC, was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics, because it repeated a royal decree in three different scripts, one of which was Greek. From the Greek the other two could be deciphered.

The process of mummification involved removing all moisture and internal organs, then drying the body and anointing it with various preserving chemicals.

The history of Egyptian medicine dates back four thousand years.

The tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

The final coffin within the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun is of solid gold, weighing 110 kg.

Following Tutankhamen's early death, Egypt's Chief Minister married the widowed Ankhesenamen and became ruler of Egypt.

As well as preserving the bodies of their rulers, the ancient Egyptians also mummified birds and animals linked to their gods: cats, bulls, crocodiles and ibises have been found in their thousands, carefully mummified and wrapped.

Cats were first domesticated in Egypt. The goddess, Bast, is the patroness of cats and the home.

The Passover celebrates the biblical story of the enslaved Israelites trying to escape from Egypt. The Angel of Death passed over the homes which had been marked over the door posts with lamb's blood and killed the first-born child in every Egyptian house.

The Orthodox Monastery of St Catherine, at the foot of Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai), was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 2002. The Monastery, founded in the sixth century, commemorates Moses receipt of the Ten Commandments.

The idea of linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean goes back to the age of the Pharaohs. The Suez Canal was opened in 1869.

The French sculptor, Bartholdi proposed a giant statue for the harbour entrance to Port Said. The plan failed because of lack of money but eventually he revived his idea as the Statue of Liberty, New York.

For over two thousand years, Egypt was controlled by foreigners. Nasser was the first native Egyptian leader.

Anwar al-Sadat, President of Egypt, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, sharing it with Israel's leader Menachem Begin. Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

In July 2005 many people were killed in a bomb attack in Sharm al-Sheikh on the Red Sea.

On 17th January 2011 a man set fire to himself outside the Egyptian parliament as a protest against economic conditions, leading to further self-immolation incidents and anti-government protests. By the 25th January Cairo witnessed the largest demonstrations in decades, calling for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. On 11th February it was announced that President Mubarak would stand down after 18 days of uprising. In March a vote was held in which 77% of the estimated 14 million plus voters supported a blueprint for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held within six months. On 12th April Mubarak was hospitalised, apparently suffering from a heart attack, followed the day after by an order for his detention ahead of corruption and abuse investigations.

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