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Posted on Thursday, July 09 - 2009

Encounter Southern Africa Magazine

Although regarded with extreme skepticism by many, the uncanny healing power of the witch doctors (M'ganga) of Africa are widely treated with respect by the medical profession. A witchdoctor in Dakar, Senegal was once able to save the lives of many yellow fever patients doomed to die where medical graduates from Paris stood by helplessly. Once too, along the banks of the Congo River, a French doctor observed African surgery being performed. His friends were treating a man with a very deep cut in the forearm. They secured a number of large black ants over the wound. As each ant bit into the flesh, the cut was drawn together. The body of each ant was removed and the wound closed as neatly as though done by a surgeon's needle.

During the smallpox epidemics of the eighteenth century in Southern Africa, there were no Bushman fatalities. They knew how to build immunity to certain diseases and poisons. Bushmen used to demonstrate this by for instance placing a tarantula spider on their hands, allowing themselves to be bitten and yet showing no trace of suffering afterwards. A Bushman's consumption of food and water has astounded doctors. A Bushman swells visibly as he consumes a small buck. And yet he will be able to compete quite comfortably in a marathon in that state. They will overtake a buck in the desert heat or chase a zebra for several kilometers with hardly any rest. It is claimed that the Bushmen has a sixth sense. They have a very highly developed and uncanny sense of direction, far superior to an European or African. A Bushman may turn, circle and zigzag for hours when hunting, but when returning to camp he will head exactly in the right direction. A tribesman was teted by blindfolding and leading him through various paths for several hours. When the cloth was removed, he pointed to the exact direction of his camp. Children too, never lose their way. Together with this "guiding instinct", they apparently see a vision of the trail ahead...

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Posted on Tuesday, May 12 - 2009

History has it that the great rulers of Canaan, the ancient land of Israel, were all men. But a recent dig conducted by Tel Aviv University (TAU) archaeologists at Tel Beth-Shemesh has uncovered possible evidence of a mysterious female ruler. Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations have uncovered an unusual ceramic plaque of a goddess in male dress, suggesting that a mighty female "king" may have ruled the city. If true, they say, the plaque would depict the only known female ruler of the region. The plaque itself depicts a figure dressed as royal male figures and deities once appeared in Egyptian and Canaanite art. The figure's hairstyle, though, is womanly and its bent arms are holding lotus flowers - attributes given to women. This plaque, art historians suggest, may be an artistic representation of the "Mistress of the Lionesses," a female Canaanite ruler who was known to have sent distress letters to the Pharaoh in Egypt reporting unrest and destruction in her kingdom. "We took this finding to an art historian who confirmed our hypothesis that the figure was a female," says Lederman. "Obviously something very different was happening in this city. We may have found the 'Mistress of the Lionesses' who'd been sending letters from Canaan to Egypt. The destruction we uncovered at the site last summer, along with the plaque, may just be the key to the puzzle." A female ruler in pre-Exodus Canaan Around 1350 BCE, there was unrest in the region. Canaanite kings conveyed their fears via clay tablet letters to the Pharaoh in Egypt, requesting military help. But among all the correspondence by kings were two rare letters that stuck out among the 382 el-Amarna tablets uncovered a few decades ago by Egyptian farmers. The two letters came from a "Mistress of the Lionesses" in Canaan. She wrote that bands of rough people and rebels had entered the region, and that her city might not be safe. Because the el-Amarna tablets were found in Egypt rather than Canaan, historians have tried to trace the origin of the tablets. "The big question became, 'What city.

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Posted on Tuesday, March 31 - 2009

Treasures of Nubia like Philae were saved, but dozens of villages disappeared.

Copyright BBC News

The Sun Temple at Abu Simbel is a popular tourist attraction which has featured in well-known films like Death on the Nile and The Mummy Returns but had it been left where Ramses II built it 35 centuries ago, it would now be under water. Fifty years ago this year Egypt and Sudan asked for international help to save ancient sites threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam."It was going to submerge all the area of Nubia - monuments, people, the landscape, everything," says Costanza de Simone from the United Nations' culture agency, Unesco."So the two governments launched an appeal to Unesco."The work brought people from all over the world into Nubia, people with different backgrounds: archaeologists, engineers and geologists.

They had to invent new methods and techniques.
"It changed the vision of how to preserve cultural heritage." Over two decades the race to carry out large-scale excavations uncovered thousands of artefacts and huge monuments were carefully cut into blocks and dismantled before being rebuilt in new locations. The most famous are the temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. "The Nubia campaign was very important," says the head of the Egyptian supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass. "It was the first time you saw such internationalcooperation. "Egypt sent the message that our monuments don't just belong to Egypt - they belong to everyone - and that is why so many different countries participated."

Uprooted people Experts who worked on the salvage projects are celebrating the anniversary of the campaign with events at the Nubia Museum in Aswan this week. It was built after they finished work to display their finds and explain the distinct history of the Nubian people. Tens of thousands of Nubians were moved from their ancestral homeland along the Nile - in southern Egypt and northern Sudan - because of the dam. Many were resettled in the desert where they were unable to practise agriculture and young people left in search of work. Uprooted, they began......

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Posted on Monday, August 18 - 2008

Submitted by Marvy: One of the driest deserts in the world, the Saharan Tenere Desert, hosted at least two flourishing lakeside populations during the Stone Age, a discovery of the largest graveyard from the era reveals. The archaeological site in Niger, called Gobero, was discovered by Paul Sereno at the University of Chicago, during a dinosaur-hunting expedition. It had been used as a burial site by two very different populations during the millennia when the Sahara was lush. Careful examination of 67 graves - a third of the 200 plots on the site - has uncovered unprecedented details about the lifestyles of the people who inhabited the green Stone Age "desert", says Sereno. "The first people who used the Goberocemetery were Kiffian, hunter-gatherers who grew up to two metres tall," says Elena Garcea of the University of Cassino in Italy and one of the scientists on the team.

The large stature of the Kiffian suggests that food was plentiful during their time in Gobero, 10,000 to 8,000 years ago. Harpoon tips found near the graves suggest that the Kiffian were skilled hunters, and the discovery of the bones of many large savannah animals in the same area suggest that they lived on the shores of the lake. All traces of the Kiffian vanish abruptly around 8,000 years ago, when the Sahara became very dry for a thousand years. When the rains returned, a different population, the Tenerians, who were of a shorter and more gracile build, based themselves at this site. Bones and artefacts dated to the Tenerian episode suggest that these peopleherded cattle and hunted fish and wildlife with tools that required less physical strength than those of the Kiffian. "The most amazing find so far is a grave with a female and two children hugging each other. They were carefully arranged in this position. This strongly indicated they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead," says Garcea. The researchers hope that by studying the remaining graves and natural remains at the site, they will obtain a more detailed picture of Stone Age lifestyle - including how they adapted to climate change.

View: Full Article | Source: New Scientist

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