Ancient Christian Ruins Discovered in Egypt

The ancient Christian structures were found carved into the bedrock at the Tal Ganoub Qasr Al Agouz site in Egypt's Western Desert Bahariya Oasis. (AFP)
The ancient Christian structures were found carved into the bedrock at the Tal Ganoub Qasr Al Agouz site in Egypt's Western Desert Bahariya Oasis. (AFP)
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Ancient Christian Ruins Discovered in Egypt

The ancient Christian structures were found carved into the bedrock at the Tal Ganoub Qasr Al Agouz site in Egypt's Western Desert Bahariya Oasis. (AFP)
The ancient Christian structures were found carved into the bedrock at the Tal Ganoub Qasr Al Agouz site in Egypt's Western Desert Bahariya Oasis. (AFP)

A French-Norwegian archaeological team has discovered new Christian ruins in Egypt's Western Desert, revealing monastic life in the region in the fifth century AD, the Egyptian antiquities ministry said Saturday.

The mission unearthed "several buildings made of basalt, others carved into the bedrock and some made of mud bricks," during its third excavation campaign at the Tal Ganoub Qasr al-Agouz site in the Bahariya Oasis, the ministry said in a statement.

The complex is comprised of "six sectors containing the ruins of three churches and monks' cells", whose "walls bear graffiti and symbols with Coptic connotations", said Osama Talaat, head of Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities at the ministry.

Mission head Victor Ghica said "19 structures and a church carved into the bedrock" were discovered last year.

The church walls were decorated with "religious inscriptions" and biblical passages in Greek, revealing "the nature of monastic life in the region", Ghica said, according to the statement.

It clearly showed that monks were present there since the fifth century AD, he said, adding that the discovery helped understand "the development of buildings and the formation of the first monastic communities" in this region of Egypt.

The remote site, located in the desert southwest of the capital Cairo, was occupied from the fourth to eighth centuries, with a likely peak of activity around the fifth and sixth centuries, according to the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), in charge of the mission.

Previous excavations undertaken in 2009 and 2013 shed light on subjects including "the production and preservation of wine as well as the husbandry of animals" in a monastic context, according to the IFAO.

Cairo has announced several major new archaeological discoveries in recent months with the hopes of spurring tourism, a sector that has suffered multiple blows, from a 2011 uprising to the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, it said a high-production brewery believed to be more than 5,000 years old had been uncovered at a funerary site in the country's south.

Also last month, an Egyptian-Dominican archaeological mission working near Alexandria said it had discovered mummies from around 2,000 years ago bearing golden-tongued amulets.

In January, Egypt unveiled ancient treasures found at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo, including sarcophagi over 3,000 years old, in a discovery that "rewrites history", according to famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.



UN Demands Action on Extreme Heat as World Registers Warmest Day

 A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
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UN Demands Action on Extreme Heat as World Registers Warmest Day

 A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for countries to address the urgency of the extreme heat epidemic, fueled by climate change - days after the world registered its hottest day on record.

"Extreme heat is the new abnormal," Guterres said. "The world must rise to the challenge of rising temperatures," he said.

Climate change is making heatwaves more frequent, more intense and longer lasting across the world.

Already this year, scorching conditions have killed 1,300 hajj pilgrims, closed schools for some 80 million children in Africa and Asia, and led to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths in the Sahel.

Every month since June 2023 has now ranked as the planet's warmest since records began in 1940, compared with the corresponding month in previous years, according the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The UN called on governments to not only tamp down fossil fuel emissions - the driver of climate change - but to bolster protections for the most vulnerable, including the elderly, pregnant women and children, and step up safeguards for workers.

Over 70 percent of the global workforce - 2.4 billion people - are now at high risk of extreme heat, according to a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) published Thursday.

In Africa, nearly 93 percent of the workforce is exposed to excessive heat, and 84 percent of the Arab States' workforce, the ILO report found.

Excessive heat has been blamed for causing almost 23 million workplace injuries worldwide, and some 19,000 deaths annually.

"We need measures to protect workers, grounded in human rights," Guterres said.

He also called for governments to "heatproof" their economies, critical sectors such as healthcare, and the built environment.

Cities are warming at twice the worldwide average rate due to rapid urbanization and the urban heat island effect.

By 2050, some researchers estimate a 700 percent global increase in the number of urban poor living in extreme heat conditions.

This is the first time the UN has put out a global call for action on extreme heat.

"We need a policy signal and this is it," said Kathy Baughman Mcleod, CEO of Climate Resilience for All, a nonprofit focused on extreme heat.

"It's recognition of how big it is and how urgent it is. It's also recognition that everybody doesn't feel in the same way and pay the same price for it."