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Ancient Egypt: Mummified animals ‘digitally unwrapped’ in 3D scans



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Media captionThe snake, bird and cat are at least 2,000 years old

Three mummified animals from ancient Egypt have been digitally unwrapped and dissected by researchers using high-resolution 3D scans.

The snake, bird and cat, from the Egypt Centre’s collection at Swansea University, are at least 2,000 years old.

Ancient texts suggest they were offerings to the souls of the departed, but little was known of their fate.

Researchers said the details revealed by the scans were “extraordinary”.

Using micro CT scanners, which generate 3D images with 100 times the resolution of medical CT scans, the animals’ remains were analysed in previously unseen detail, giving an insight into how they were killed and the ritual behind it.

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Swansea University

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The coiled remains of an Egyptian cobra, undisturbed for thousands of years

And the seven-year project, a collaboration between the Egypt Centre and Swansea’s College of Engineering, came about by chance.

Richard Johnston, professor of material science, said: “The project started purely because the engineering department used to be right opposite the Egypt Centre, and over coffee I mentioned our X-ray scanner might reveal what’s hidden inside their animal mummies, and so we took it from there.

“Up until then we’d been using the technology to scan jet engine parts, composites, or insects, but what we found when we started looking at the mummified animals was extraordinary.”

Dr Carolyn Graves-Brown, of the Egypt Centre, said the collaboration between engineers, archaeologists, biologists, and Egyptologists showed “the value of researchers from different subjects working together”.

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Swansea University

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The head of the mummified cat after it had been digitally unwrapped

The team discovered that:

  • unerupted teeth hidden within the jaw bone suggested the cat was a kitten of less than five months old. Separation of its vertebrae indicated it had possibly been strangled
  • Virtual bone measurements suggested the bird most closely resembled a Eurasian kestrel
  • Analysis of bone fractures on the snake – a juvenile Egyptian Cobra – showed it was killed by a whipping action against the ground or a wall

The findings are in keeping with what the Egypt Centre already believed about the ritual mummification of animals.

The ancient Egyptians mummified animals as well as humans, including cats, ibis, hawks, snakes, crocodiles and dogs.

Sometimes they were buried with their owner as a food supply for the afterlife, but the most common animal mummies were offerings, bought by visitors to temples to present to the gods.

They were bred or captured by keepers and then killed and embalmed by temple priests; it is believed that as many as 70 million animal mummies were created in this way.

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Swansea University

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The soft tissue (left) and skeletal remains (right) of the Eurasian kestrel

Prof Johnston said while finding an animal inside might not have been a surprise, the level of detail they were able to obtain certainly was.

“The snake mummy had been X-rayed before, but that only creates a 2D image which doesn’t tell you too much about the finer structure. Conventional medical CT scanning provides a 3D image, but the resolution is too poor to make out much more,” he said.

“However, with the micro CT software we can create a virtual reality image of the scan as large as a house, if you like; I can actually walk around inside the body of the cat and make microscopic measurements to examine in minute detail.”

The micro CT works by taking thousands of individual X-rays from all angles while the mummy rotates 360 degrees.

A computer then merges them to create a 3D image which can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

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Swansea University

Image caption

The open-mouthed skull of the Egyptian cobra, as revealed by X-ray microtomography

It differs from a medical scanner in that, rather than the X-ray source and camera revolving around the object, the object spins on a platform between the source and camera.

Prof Johnston said this makes it impractical for medical use on live humans, but the technology still has many other untapped applications.

“X-ray dose from micro CT is typically too high for human use, and the scan times much longer,” he said.

“But it has limitless potential for materials in science, engineering, biology, even biomimicry.

“We scan structures from nature that have evolved over millions of years to be efficient or strong, like bamboo, and then reproduce the micro-scale shape for engineering design through 3D printing.”

The full research is published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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