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Discovery of 7000-year-old city in Egypt

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Temple of Seti

By: Akil Soyinka

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered the ruins of an ancient city and an adjoining cemetery that date back 7000 years to 5,316 BCE. According to a statement by the antiquities ministry, the site can be traced back to Egypt’s First Dynasty.

The discovery was made by a mission associated with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities just 400 meters away from the temple of Seti I, an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned in the 13th century BCE, across the River Nile from the southern city of Luxor, the Egypt Independent reported.

The ministry said that the unearthed city could provide more information about Abydos, one of ancient Egypt’s oldest cities

Conservationists Criticize Possible Lifting of the Ban on Import of Elephant Trophies

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Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that they will reverse an Obama-era ban on the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia after determining that sport hunting in those countries will help conserve the species. However, a day later, in a tweet by President Trump himself, he stated that he would delay his administration’s decision to allow the importing of elephant body parts from Zimbabwe “until such time as I review all conservation facts”.

It is interesting to note that the first announcement was made public not by a federal agency but via a celebratory news release by the Safari Club International, a trophy hunting advocacy group that, along with the National Rifle Association, sued to block the 2014 ban. In fact, Greg Sheehan, principal deputy director of the FWS, broke the news to the hunting organization during the African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) in Tanzania.

While it is still not clear what happened during the twenty four hours that made the Trump administration to change course or at least put a pause on the decision, it is quite obvious that the administration and federal agencies received many criticisms from around the world. Many conservationists and wild life experts opposed the decision and talked about vocally on the social media and through press releases arguing that the Trump administration was pandering to big-game hunters. According to the Guardian Newspaper (UK), one of the vocal critics was the primatologist Jane Goodall who told the Guardian on Friday, before Trump’s announcement of the postponement that she “was shocked and horrified, but this is the road this administration is taking,” and that “One by one, they are undoing every protection for the environment that was put in place by their predecessors.” In fact, she added that, “It’s very rare that money raised by legal trade in ivory or rhino husks gets out to protect the animals,” Goodall added. “It goes into the pockets of the safari outfits that take the clients, or goes into the hands of corrupt government officials.” According to the Guardian.

Another big name celebrity who made public statements was actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio who said he “could not believe” the Trump administration had taken the step and called the move by the Trump administration as “reprehensible.”

African elephants have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. A provision of the law, however, allows for sport-hunted trophies to be imported if government determines that hunting will help safeguard the population. However, it is a fact that the number of Savanna elephants continues to dwindle. From 2007 to 2014, the population dropped by 30 percent, or about 144,000 animals, across 18 African countries, according to the 2016 Great Elephant Census. In Zimbabwe, it fell 6 percent. And “substantial declines” have been recorded along the Zambezi River in Zambia, although the population elsewhere in the country remained stable. 

Most conservationists believe that one of the reasons for the recent changes and for the actions being taken by the Trump administration is because the Interior Department is led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is an avid hunter and has moved to increase opportunities for hunting and fishing. Earlier this month as reported by several news outlets, Zinke announced the creation of a so-called International Wildlife Conservation Council to advise him on “the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs.” In addition, President Donald Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are also avid big game hunters. In a photo that surfaced in 2012, Trump Jr. was seen holding the tail of an elephant he had shot and killed in Africa. 

 

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is annually held on December 2 to raise awareness of the atrocities of modern slavery. It’s not to be confused with another UN day, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery reminds people that modern slavery works against human rights.©iStockphoto.com/milansys

What Do People Do?

Many people use the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery as an opportunity to share their perspective in writings through poetry, opinion pieces, interviews, feature articles, short stories and other published material. Classrooms may review the history of slave trade, its evolution and changes it has undergone through to modern times. Students may also learn about the negative impacts of slavery on society.

Online, print and broadcast media promote the day through news, debates, forums, and talks about modern day slave trade and why it is a serious human rights issue. Political leaders, including senators and those with ministerial responsibilities, also take the time to urge the public to work together in eradicating any form of slavery in modern society. Flyers, posters, leaflets, newsletters about abolishing slavery and slave trade are also distributed throughout universities and in public areas on this day.

Background

The United Nations is committed to fighting against slavery and considers bonded labour, forced labour, the worst forms of child labour and trafficking people as modern forms of slavery. Some sources day that more than one million children are trafficked each year for cheap labour or sexual exploitation. These types of slavery are global problems and go against article four of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery recalls the adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of December 2, 1949). To remember the convention, a UN report of the Working Group on Slavery recommended in 1985 that December 2 be proclaimed the World Day for the Abolition of Slavery in all its forms. By 1995, the day was known as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

On December 18, 2002, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2004 the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition. On November 28, 2006, the assembly designated March 25, 2007, as the International Day for the Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The UN also annually observes the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23.

Pizza Could Earn UNESCO World Heritage Status

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In early December UNESCO’s committee on cultural heritage will meet in Seoul, South Korea, to discuss many different submissions by countries around the world for recognition and designation by UNESCO. During that meeting Neapolitan pizza will be a topic of discussion and whether it should be on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

In 2006, UNESCO started its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list which recognizes traditional practices and activities around the globe. The list includes music, food, dance and things that shape national identities around the world. The list over the last few years have included additions such as Turkish coffee, Croatian gingerbread, Japanese washoku, the Mediterranean diet, and the cuisines of Mexico and France. UNESCO’s goal has been to honor and preserve traditional cooking methods, as well as food, and other intangible things that basically that are recognized around the world as being representations of the countries of origins.

We all love pizza and have our favorite pizza. If you have never travelled to Italy, you still know pizza, perhaps from your favorite Italian restaurant and not so Italian restaurant in New York City, Los Angeles, London….. People all around the world love pizza, even if they have never ate it in Italy. However, Italians have argued that Pizza has special significance for their people and country and that is why more than two million Italians have petitioned for pizza to be given UNESCO World Heritage status.

In addition, the Italians or specifically the city of Naples argue that Neapolitan pizza was born in that city and they have to ensure that the traditional form of the pizza which does not include all the latest creative toppings survive the changing times.

Whatever the outcome of the discussions and the decision of the UNESCO committee will be, it is our wish and hope that we all continue being able to eat pizza anywhere in the world.

 

Digital exploration of the Sculptor’s Cave

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During the late Bronze Age, the cave appears to have been a repository for precious objects, with finds ranging from bronze bracelets via pottery to a swan’s neck pin. Large quantities of human remains have also been discovered – especially those of children – suggesting that the cave may have been a centre for funerary rites. Intriguingly, on the frontal bone of one child, there is evidence suggestive of deliberate defleshing. Some of the cave’s most important features, however, are the Pictish symbols that can be found on the walls of its entrance passages.

Problematically, the cave is only accessible at low tide, making investigation of the interior time-sensitive. A new project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland and carried out by Professor Ian Armit and Dr Lindsey Büster at the University of Bradford, has created a high-resolution animated model of the cave.

Stunning 1500-year-old mosaic discovered in Israeli Port City

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The well-preserved remains of a 1,500-year-old colored mosaic floor from a Georgian church or monastery was unearthed during an excavation in the coastal city of Ashdod, the Antiquities Authority announced this week.

The mosaic was discovered in August at the ancient tel, or archeological mound, of Ashdod- Yam, under the direction of Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv University’s Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations Department, and Prof. Angelika Berlejung of Leipzig University.
According to the authority, the mosaic includes a fourline Greek commemorative inscription dedicated to the structure’s builder, Bishop Procopius, as well as the year of its construction, based on the Georgian calendar.

“[By the grace of God (or Jesus)], this work was done from the foundation under Procopius, our most saintly and most holy bishop, in the month Dios of the 3rd indiction, year 292,” it states.
“This was many years before it was used in Georgia itself,” Segni said.

A secret passageway has been discovered under a 1,000-year-old Mexican pyramid

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A secret passageway has been discovered under a 1,000-year-old Mexican pyramid.
It’s believed the previously undiscovered access could reveal the geography of the sacred site, as well as shed light on new details of the Mayans ancient beliefs.
Spanish explorers discovered the ancient Kukulkan pyramid in the 1500s.
The Kukulkan is a Mayan snake god, who legend has it, resembles a feathered serpent and emerged from a cave after an earthquake.
The new discovery of the underground passage is believed to lead to a cenote or water-filled cave at the Temple of Kikulkan in Mexico’s Chichen Itza.
Experts believe this passageway will reveal more about the Mayan ‘snake god’.

Sophisticated imagine technology revealed the passageway.

The discover should reveal more about the sacred structure (Picture: INAH/ GAM/ Youtube)
Reports suggest that the Mayans sacrificed people into cenotes – and this has been backed up by the discovery of human remains on past expeditions.
The passage was revealed by the Great Mayan Aquifer Project, led by underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.
The group used sophisticated imagine techniques, including ground penetrating lidar to force electromagnetics signals through the ancient structure.

The passage is believed to lead to a water-filled cave (Picture: Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia

At present, they team have discovered the passage, although have not physically explored it yet as it’s currently blocked by a smaller burial chamber known as the Ossuary.
Dr de Anda told El Universal: ‘Through the Ossuary, we can enter the cave beneath the structure and there we found a blocked passageway, probably closed off by the ancient Mayans themselves.
‘We will enter again and this time we will try to open it to see if the passageway leads us to the entrance of the cenote beneath the pyramid.’
Exploration could prove perilous as researchers discovered a large sinkhole beneath the temple in 2015.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

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One of the most devastating human rights violations

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.

Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms, as stated by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Some intolerable facts

Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination. According to the aforementioned report, on the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.

Another extreme case of violence against women is female genital mutilation/cutting. This harmful practice has declined by 24 per cent since around 2000. Nevertheless, prevalence remains high in some of the 30 countries with representative data. In those countries, survey data from around 2015 indicate that more than 1 in 3 girls between 15 and 19 years of age have undergone the procedure compared to nearly 1 in 2 girls around 2000.

Moreover, only just over half (52 per cent) of women between 15 and 49 years of age who are married or in a relationship make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations and use of contraceptives and health services. That statistic is based on available data from around 2012 for 45 countries, 43 of which are in developing regions.

Research also shows that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict, and high rates of violence against women correlates with outbreaks of conflict. Despite the evidence, actions for women’s inclusion, leadership and protection remain inadequate. In some areas, there has even been a roll back on progress.

Lack of funds

One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. As a result, resources for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women and girls are severely lacking. Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which include a specific target on ending violence against women and girls, offer huge promise, but must be adequately funded in order to bring real and significant changes in the lives of women and girls.

This year has brought some good news in this regard, as the European Union and the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Another initiative that has been helping to expose this scourge is the UNiTE to end violence against women initiative launched in 2008 by the then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, which is also supported by his successor, António Guterres.

2017 Theme: Leave no one behind

UNiTE leads the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which aims to raise public awareness and mobilize people everywhere to bring about change. Those 16 days go from 25th November to 10th December, which is Human Rights Day. The theme of the campaign for 2017 is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.” This theme reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others, first. As in previous years, the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign invites you to “Orange the world,” using the colour designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolize a brighter future without violence. Organize events to orange streets, schools and landmarks!

Earthquake and historic sites in Iran

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A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck western Iran late on Sunday November 12, causing relatively minor damage to several historic and heritage sites in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces.

“It slightly damaged five historical sites including a Safavid-era caravanserai and a Sassanid-era fortress in the counties of Qasr-e Shirin, Sarpol-e Zahab and Dalahu in Kermanshah province while assessing the damage is still ongoing,” CHTN quoted Jalil Baalai, the provincial tourism chief, as saying on Monday.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Department dispatched several cultural heritage task forces to determine the extent of [possible] damage to each monument, the official said, adding “The five sites can be restored.”

UNESCO-registered sites of Bisotun and Taq-e Bostan went unhurt, ISNA quoted Baalai as saying. 

Bisotun features a life-size bas-relief carving that depicts Achaemenid king Darius I and several other figures while Taq-e Bostan meaning “Arch of the Garden” is home to series of large rock reliefs from Sassanid era.

Opening of the Louvre Museum in Dubai

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Today, November 11th, marked the historic opening of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island, and it definitely won’t be a quiet affair! With a whole host of events, the Louvre museum will come alive for a 4-day opening celebration and we’re all invited! From music and workshops to international performers and surprise performances, the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi is set to be monumental in the capital’s history.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is set to become a new cultural beacon in the region it opens on Saturday 11th November. The first of its kind in the Arab world, Louvre museum will showcase human stories across civilisations and cultures, helping us to understand the similarities and connections that are at the core of humanity. In addition to featuring galleries, temporary exhibitions and a year-long programme packed with performances, Louvre will also boast a high-end restaurant, a café and a Children’s Museum.