Greatest Translator - Loeb of Harvard

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Greatest Translator - Loeb of Harvard

Post by Hafiz »

Loeb of Harvard is the greatest translator and publisher of the broadest range of written works of the classical period. Homer and Hesiod from the 7th or 8th century BC are the obvious but they have published translations of some documents of the Ptolemaic period in Egypt. Their three volumes of Egyptian Select Papyri cover everything from literature to administrative documents. Manetho’s History of Egypt (3rd century BC) is another volume, as is Christodorus of Thebes, a poet and historian.

Oddly they publish nothing from the pre-Greek period.

The summary of the best of their library – the single volume Loeb Classical Reader – has nothing in it about Egypt from any period.

For them the Egyptian ‘civilization’ is of little matter to the modern world in terms of thought, art, science, mathematics, medicine, government, philosophy or general culture. On the other hand Sophocles’s play (Antigone) is of a woman who defies the king and the community to pursue her individual interests and it still echoes loudly through 2,500 years to the 21st century and is performed in all parts of the civilized world because our link with these Greeks is absolutely clear, unbroken by time and we still share the same questions of life and love.

The great Greek plays are not performed in Egypt but that is no surprise in a country that ignores the deep lessons of history and the issues of humanpersonality.

All Loeb volumes are a small standard hardback, not cheap, (US$25-50) and include the original text opposite the translation which invites criticism from expert colleagues to improve the text/detect mistakes in translation. Debate being the basis of truth in some cultures – but not all.

The whole immense library is available for free browsing. ... he-library

The astounding Internet Archive has an edition of the whole library as at its copyright expiration date available free for both viewing and for free download in PDF format. ... %20manetho

Three Egyptian volumes is not a lot to contribute to world written culture but Loeb does have the best translations that exist.

Of course they have many texts which refer to Alexander the Great and his very brief time, but major impact on, Egypt.

Why there are not more published on Egypt may be connected to lack of interesting or important content or lack of access to Egyptian documents by world class western translators/historians and its significant there are no papyri published by Egypt itself and none published elsewhere have been translated by an Egyptian. They have tons of material but publish/translate nothing.

Egypt, or the western archaeology teams, do translate and publish inscriptions from temples which give you the propaganda/lies the Pharaoh wants you to believe (eg Ramses II ‘great victories’ in Asia Minor) but few would find that interesting whereas official documents and private letters in manuscript form often gets you closer to the truth.

The Loeb type documents are analyzed deeply for contradictions, context, self interest and exaggeration to produce the clearest view we can get on what actually went on. The great and complete histories of the Greeks and Romans take account of both the physical and written evidence whereas, to its detriment, Egyptian history gives overwhelming weight to the ambiguous monuments and their bragging inscriptions. At worst, time and millions are wasted on ‘knowing’ how Tut died, as if it matters maybe tens of millions should be spent on digging up Elizabeth I/Caesar and ‘doing her/him over’ – to what important purpose?

The AUC bookshop does not sell Loeb but does sell lots of supermarket junk – a deal of it published by AUC itself and full of ‘pretty pictures’. Bethany and her questionable academic background/foreground are probably a big hit.

AUC isn’t much interested in translation of documents – more photograph and coffee table books and even its choice of English translators for Mahfouz is generally thought ridiculous in the west. Having failed on the simple matter of modern Arabic into English I doubt the have the skills to translate/analyze millennia old documents. See below for an anecdote of how they failed to translate Mahfouz into French and the ‘surprise of surprise’ of who did.

There seems no Government of Egypt program nor a Supreme Antiquities program to translate and publish papyrus, which continues their low rent/small brain/big PR stunt approach to their own history. No university in Egypt teaches classical Greek, Semitic, Cushitic, Aramaic, Phoenician, Persian, Hebrew, Byzantine or the Latin languages that dominated Egypt for 800 years. Whether the very complicated Arabic of the High Classical period is taught I doubt, but we do know that Hawass wants hieroglyphics taught in schools (but what version because, according to the Dynasty or the effect of external influence, its not a uniform language over 2,000 years). What rot – and again from that rotter.

All major scholarship and all translations over the whole course of Egyptian history are done in the west. That must be a world record repeated by no other country for their own history – the complete ‘sub-contracting’ of ones history to other people. Of course the overwhelming/near entire amount of the digging is also done by Westerners.

There is no Egyptian based scholarly journal although the SCA is mandated to do this – the last short lived attempt SCA ceased in 2010. Here is a list of 259 open access journals on archeology, in various languages – I can find no Egyptian based journal - ... -journals/ The same is true of the Islamic period. An alphabetical list of several hundred journals on the middle east produces the same result: ... ccess.html

Therefore Egypt is an academic black hole – or worse. I imagine 70 years of military rule does not much worry about the criticism of being an intellectual black hole.

The world’s allegedly oldest papyrus was discovered by a French team on the coast in ‘14/’15 and hasn’t been published even though the old (Ha)windbad/ass called them “the greatest discovery in Egypt in the 21st century.” What impulsive hysterical rot. Do the work on them and then tell me why they are important – it will take 10-20 years. ... 180956619/ What happened to his 10,000 mummies in the ‘Valley of the Golden Mummies’ ‘discovered’ by Hawass. What work other than a coffee table book has been done and who guards the 9,980 still in the ground.

Of course the Loeb publications are just manuscripts of ideas and information about how the ancient world worked and therefore fail the ‘desirable’ Hawass-Cecil B de Mille test of shock, awe, money, lies and no hard work. Nevertheless The immense value of old manuscripts and the years of work required by the best in the world to preserve them is clear from the recent example of Archimedes Codex. ... ad-of-time. Archimedes may have visited Egypt - its unclear. Another example of more interest to Egypt is the Golenischev papyrus/ Alexandrian World Chronicle from before the 6th century and purchased out in the open from a ‘Sheik’ at Giza around 1901. This Chronicle is a bit of a mess made no better by awful Russian curators. Harvard have now published it and made sense of it and Loeb is a Harvard imprint. ... 0674053076. The Danes are also publishing ancient Egyptian manuscripts on medicine. ... t-medicine

The entire world is full of people who publish and study ancient manuscripts – except one place that has tons of them sitting ‘somewhere’.

Just what the Egyptian universities, Ministries and others do concerning their manuscripts is a mystery but chaos, gross negligence and Kafkaesque bureaucracy are not unreasonable guesses.


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Re: Greatest Translator - Loeb of Harvard

Post by Hafiz »

What Egyptians Are Doing

The Supreme Antiques are statutorily required to publish an academic journal. Before 2010 they published a joke of a magazine – short articles, bad photos, 6-10 x A4 pages, no articles refereed, no reference/reviews of new books, no mention of international conferences, no information on Egyptian exhibitions or opening times for tombs or museums, no offering of on-line purchases, no information for elderly or disabled tourists, no profile of senior staff and their recent achievements/publications and no status reports on any digs or restorations. It just promoted themselves but nothing has been published since 2011.

It was an amateur hour magazine that if attempted in the west would be closed down for bad design, bad English, vulgarity, no academic standards and poor photos.

There is no similar body anywhere in the world which does not publish an academic journal – not even blood soaked and very poor Cambodia but the Supreme Antiques publish lots of Hawass rot about golden mummies he never discovered but nothing on the papyri.

To be clear. Egypt purports to be the ‘world center’ of ancient history/archaeology but it publishes absolutely nothing within its borders to the minimum standards accepted in the rest of the world. If Hawass has ever published anything in 40 years in a refereed scholarly journal I will give a $US100 donation to a charity of your choice. I’m waiting.

Of their publication to 2011 I can find not one thing which relates to manuscripts or the written history of Egypt that is not otherwise gouged into temple walls.

Local support for study of this period and its manuscripts, indeed almost all periods, is scant. I can find no, and definitely none sponsored by the Alex Library, conferences, seminars or journals which sponsor the study of this 800 year period. In fact I can find little that the Library does other than cocktail parties for locals and strident demands for gifts of books/money from the west. That its new Chair is an ex-cop connected to the Army and Mubarak and with no relevant skills, experience or education should surprise no one. It’s like appointing some City of London crook or General to run the British Museum.

The Alex Library does nothing but consume western money and parade its jaded and painted body as high culture to fool the world.

The recent western funding from the Egypt Exploration Society and others has exclusively been to improve sand scraping skills. ... n-pyramids

The Alex Library/Supreme Antiques will now need more money because they have decided to waste a deal of their existing money on Hawass and his new self named (but not self-funded) Centre of World (Egyptian) Civilization in ‘Smart City’ Cairo. A ‘Study Center’ which entirely ignores the Sea Peoples/Persian/Greek/Cushitic/ Roman/ Byzantine /Arabic/Mamaluk/Ottoman/Coptic periods and entirely ignores Alex and what lies under the ground there. Its all about Tut and related. My bet is that the Hawass Center will publish nothing except garbage for mass consumption – sure to be a seller to Hawass’s brain dead western audience.

You would think the National Library of Egypt would do something with manuscripts and papyrus – but no. The National Library in Cairo sponsors little beyond pay cheques for absent staff and can’t even do an inventory of its own holdings – the same problem as Tahir, GEM, Museum of Egyptian Culture, the Alex Museum all the regional museums and the ‘storage’ facilities that have no idea of what they hold and therefore cannot know what’s lost or stolen. Their skills in preserving old books and ancient texts, manuscripts and papyrus are likely similar to the Supreme Antiques – worse than awful. If true no one in Egypt is interested or competent in manuscripts or papyrus – just big draw-card temples but even there their restoration skills are close to zero and their security with their11,000 Tourist police hopeless.

Wait for it – its special. The malfunctioning Library website features on line access to world famous Egyptian manuscripts – except they are in the Library of Congress and all Egypt has done is to link their library site with the US site that caters for Christians, women, Jews, perverts and agnostics. This seems evidence that they have nothing or have done no work.

A University of Michigan report on the Library in 2014 was riotous – albeit polite. The best technology the Egyptians have is microfilm and this is probably read via the 60-70 year old technology of a winding machine that would be tossed out of a municipal library in a small country town in the west 30 years ago. They have not upgraded to the ‘Austin Woolsey’ of computer assisted microfiche reading – maybe they are waiting for the EU to give them Euro100 million.

The Michigan author is a librarian and his description of the catalogue/index system is complicated but I think his conclusion is that it’s a mess. Exactly what you would expect of the keepers of the great cultural and intellectual heritage of Egypt. A joke. A response to this article from an amateur researcher defends the Egyptians and refers those interested to a catalogue of manuscripts held by the Supreme Librarians. The catalogue link he gives is dead – joke intended but factually true. The amateur researcher is wrong – and a fool.

Given this mess serious academics both Egyptian and Western will stay away or be deterred – maybe that is the purpose. Finding anything in the library on a random search basis is the best to be expected. Simple questions like – do you have X are greeted with a blank look.

With microfiche I think they are past the stage of being able to continue because these outdated film and cellulite/plastic inputs to fiche may no longer be available from manufacturers/suppliers so maybe they should try and buy unused 40 year old stocks from some primitive backwater and continue with their Archimedes Screw.

If they were using digital cameras, around for 30 years, a 14 year old kid could convert the images to computer visual files available to the world in perpetuity rather than fiche that will burn a building down. Cheap and quick but would commit two dreadful Egyptian mortal sins by showing that small people can do big things and big people have sat on their hands for 50 years. It would also commit the ultimate perversion in the eyes of the Junta – big problems can be solved quickly, simply and cheaply by small people. If these perversions and mortal sins got around people might question the benefits of having slave addicted masters.

They could also go down the road and buy a good quality scanner for $US5-7,000 and do what the greatest library in the world does – do your own scanning whilst running a profitable side business catering for companies, families, religious groups, government departments and scan and store their information for them. I think it could be a monopoly market. Here is the Great British Library ‘factory’ which did their own work, paid for the expensive equipment and avoided the idleness once the library job was done. Smart people. ... &dispH=351

The British Library and hundreds of others in sane countries where librarians do what they are paid to do use these scanning systems and cheap on-demand printing of old books to make good money and ‘spread the word’ in middle market prices. I know because I use it. They can print a single copy for a single order at an acceptable price and the product is clear, sturdy and well bound. Microsoft sponsors the British Library but in Egypt Microsoft walked out of Egypt after the blocking of the internet and other Hitler-style repression 7 years ago. The world’s largest company won’t do business in Egypt.

The commercial potential for this scanning/printing for Egypt is clear but ignored. The potential of it for preservation and study is also obvious.

The Egyptian library is not air-conditioned and has no facilities for the storage of fragile old manuscripts. Here is a recent example of the chaos and storage of manuscripts under dust, albeit in the Museum:

“The oldest known Egyptian leather manuscript, dating back some 4,000 years, has been rediscovered at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after it was pulled from a dusty, old storage box, where it had been lost for around 70 years.” ... 8ft-020526

‘dusty old storage box’ - the Supreme Antiques should be believed as always telling the truth – clearly well looked after by several generations of brilliant Egyptian management.

As with all change in Egypt, unless it comes as ‘inspiration’ from the top with that person suggesting it is, at best, ignored, or at worst punished for insubordination. Or they wait for a new truck of cash from the west, demand the right to ‘do it’, ignore that much of their reform is not much good, the money goes missing following which they go back for seconds. Ask the Aga Khan or UNESCO on the Step Pyramid disaster.

As far as I can work out the Bib. (no not that type of infantile bib but the large geriatric version) Alex. might look good from the outside like 1 or 2 English Country houses but when you get ‘inside’ you realize there is nothing there. My best estimates are that it has no proper conservation program for ancient texts, it has no single computer record of its holdings, it has no acquisitions policy (and maybe no acquisitions budget) where it sets out priorities – rather than buying/gaining the gift of everything and anything, the current Director is a Mubarak/Sisi person of little integrity, an ex cop and no relevant skills, experience or education. Unbelievably for a new library established in the IT age its still in the stone age and microfiche and related bronze age technology is its forte.

The Supreme Imperial Bib’s do preserve manuscripts but, according to them, only the Islamic and Arabic. ... ?keywords= That leaves a lot in the ground – or in the bin. The thousands of ancient Jewish manuscripts including some of the most important early Christian/Jewish in the world texts are obviously of little interest to them. Egypt prevents these texts leaving the country and their photograph or computer scanning.

Egypt was the center of little important in Islamic culture or theology, absolutely nothing then and now so the Bib’s priority is odd and against the views of all western academics. In 1,400 years not one major or idle Islamic thinker/theologian came from Egypt nor was al Azhar more than a postbox – as it still is whilst Alex was vital to world culture in the earlier period under the Greeks/Romans and after, vital for the development of early Christianity and vital to science and maths. The Bib is not interested in anything important to the history of the world or even to the history of Islam.

Lets be clear the last time Egypt was the center of world culture was during the early Christian period and Egypt shows no interest in this. Not even the Copts. More below.

In keeping with its role as the center of world culture the Bib has a search page on its manuscripts but only in Arabic. The visuals they offer include lots of meetings, no restoration/preservation and nothing electronic except maybe the prodder used by their new Director whose great claim was his this job was as a Police General.

That the Alex Bib should be strangling itself is no surprise. Not a single board member has experience or training in libraries, culture, literature, history, the history and culture of Alex or the history and culture of Egypt. There are 4 of the worst Egyptian Ministers, a Russian, a Taiwanese economist, an agricultural scientist, an Ecuadorian failed politician, a Bulgarian politician, can it get any worse, ... -bulgaria/, they claim a Norwegian ex-PM but oddly his own CV makes no mention of the Bib, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt who is widely regarded by academics and lawyers in the West as the most corrupt of the corrupt - Farouk El Okdah/Okda - Bassiouni p 396, an Albanian, I told you things would get worse, Amr Moussa, 82 years of age, a Colombian politician, a Serbian politician and friend of the war criminal Milosevic ... the-year-q it gets worse: a Romanian politician, a former President whose Wiki and own CV make no mention of Bib except one trip there, a dead former FM of the Netherlands who 24 months after his death is still a serving Board member. I wonder how he voted once he stopped breathing?

It claims to be a museum with a world vision but its holdings are parochial and its governance close to a mafia membership list headed by a policeman from a force that was regarded as worse than corrupt in 2011 when Egyptians last cried out the truth.

Last edited by Hafiz on Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Greatest Translator - Loeb of Harvard

Post by Hafiz »

Positive Initiatives

Alexandria is important and not for the reasons you might guess. Its humidity and pollution mean that parchment, papyrus and vellum won’t last. The water table and the salt in it and in the air also mean that most would give priority to this area with these items.

Some have got off their hands and sought the best help like Patriarch Petros III who from 1999 asked the Fins to conserve and digitize his huge collection but of course he was an educated and civilized Greek, a liberal and worked as a priest in a wide range of countries – probably a great man. He didn’t ask for Egyptian help because none exists. ... alexandria and ... oject.html

As we breathe the Greeks of St Catherine’s together with the University of California are digitizing their world important library if for no other reason than to protect the manuscripts from ISIS attack or Supreme Antique theft by their Tourist Police. Great idea if a bit late in the game. $3 million and Egypt pays nothing – its all US money. Unlike the Supreme Antiques they use the best skills wherever they come from – usually not Egypt. ... monastery/

Other reports say the major Coptic librarys, like the Supreme Antiques and the Supreme Librarians don’t have the basics. They have no catalogue and have no idea of what they have – or don’t have. Its not unreasonable to assume that their conservation work and their academic study is the same or worse.

The single most important manuscript on the Christian period, the Nag Hammadi Library (3rd century AD but based on much earlier manuscripts) is held by the Copts in Egypt (see more below for their wreck of a library and their vegetative view of scholarship) but they have done nothing to preserve, analyze or publish it. All of this has been done by US Westerners. Its unbelievable but true. They sit on this but do nothing. Not one book/commentary on it not one international conference has been done by an Egyptian. Ever thus. The Americans have digitized it and placed it on-line. ... ection/nha

Its another story of ‘having the physical assets’, like pyramids but being too lazy/stupid to do the needed work on them.

Their central library is as you would expect – no computer, no thorough record of holdings and no success in any western languages. It could be worse

Meanwhile the not rich Dominican religious order spend their limited money in Cairo in collecting, preserving and studying ancient Christian and Islamic texts and avoid well-publicized theatrical ‘congresses’ (with suits and parties) with visitors. They also maintain a 155,000 volume Cairo library, open to all, and which could be bigger than the mismanaged National Library of Egypt and perform world standard conservation. High technology is their forte and they have an IT catalogue – shock horror. Their work is heroic and many decades ago they first translated Mahfouz into French to help kick off his career – something the National Library would not touch with a barge pole. ... am-1.58746 They even have a tri-lingual web site whereas the so-called Coptic Institute which claims a similar function has nothing unless you can read and write in Arabic. The Copts are not much interested in ‘outsiders’ reading (and criticizing) their poor quality ‘scholarship’ – scant though that is – possibly nothing in 20 years. Their study of their own history cannot have enough bad things said about it.

The database for all sources in the world of scholarship on Coptic religion contains nothing based in Egypt. Conferences on manuscripts and its ancient history are all held in the West. There is no thinking or study on Coptic religion in Egypt that anyone can trace. ... &p=1189264

At the moment the Dominican scholar staff is about 25 – mainly priests but also ‘civilians’. from all over the world (including Lebanon, Iraq and Syria but not from Egypt. The Dominicans have high entry standards) and are educated to the highest standard. They charge for accommodation and like their Dominican predecessors charity is not one of their strengths.

As ever they know the most powerful and their Chair is the former director of the French National Library – a job like the British Museum – one of the greatest librarian jobs in the world.

Their ‘friends’ the Franciscan do similar academic work (The Franciscan Center for Oriental Studies) but also look after the poor. Their IT and money making skills are not as good as their ‘friends’. - south of Bab al Shaaria metro station.

The Dominicans behave in very un-Egyptian ways and co-operate and help related bodies in Egypt, Saudi, western Europe and the absolutely remarkable, London based, Hindawi Foundation that publishes low cost Arabic translations of the greatest books in the world – including the clear thinking philosopher Karl Popper – a Jew.

The Franciscans have a structured relationship with the Coptic Catholics (but speak English and don’t worship the Coptic Pope and his ‘brother’ Sisi). I can’t nail how this works but the Franciscan activity in Upper Egypt and elsewhere is often in co-operation with Coptic Catholics although its confused with the broken down mainstream Coptic Church (no women in power, low education standards for priests, no debate and compulsory ‘conversion’ therapy and surgery for perverts). There seem to be a religious group in the lower areas of Upper Egypt who are Coptic Catholics and before Nasser kicked out ‘western’ priests and nuns they ran several hundred schools in that area as well as hospitals and related services – some/many of these were seized/stolen and ended up run by predictable people – I need to check this murky story out further.

The Jesuits at the Collège de Sainte Famille in Cairo have a library of manuscripts, information is scant but scholars are freely admitted – unlike Cairo National Library.

Back to Predictable Stuff-Ups

The Egyptian Geographical Society’ lost’ its entire collection in the 90’s earthquake, has been looking, but can’t find a single manuscript. Really. How can you ‘loose’ all your manuscripts in an earthquake. If they are damaged they can be fixed with careful, high science and high skills. Don’t say the Society lacks these skills and just tossed out the fragments. How secure were their holdings from water, fire or building collapse. Some cast iron safes will generally do the job for little money. If they had scanned them nothing would have been lost but that would require foresight and management characteristics this Society lacks and never cared for,

The manuscript holdings of al Azhar and their preservation are a mystery – much like most of the work of al Azhar. I think its safe to assume that access for scholars would be very limited or worse. In 2005 they said they would go online with their digital collection In 2006 they said they were up and running ... 79950/1002 In 2011 they said they would soon go online with their digital collection at which point it was judged ‘scanty-panty’ and illiterate and full of mistakes. ... nline.html. They tried to do it themselves using all their logical brain power so what’s the betting that 8/14 years later it’s a mess. Rule 101 of IT projects – if they start bad the ending is awful – bad foundations dreadful superstructure. 14 years and still going.

The Jewish manuscripts connected with the long history of Jews in Egypt (now kicked out) are another, but similar story, and about the only things that can be said of them are that they are important, held closely by the government, copying is refused, study refused/deterred, conservation likely to normal standards – none, removal from the country for care absolutely refused and its handling entirely political in terms of the Israel ‘issue’. Given early Christianity emerged in Alex in the largest or second largest Jewish community in the world it’s a diamond waiting to be cut and polished. Another post although few if any on this forum are interested in Egypt in other than pyramid or beach terms.

On a positive note Cambridge got several tons of Jewish manuscripts out from Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue in the late 19th century and have studied them voraciously. Its now on-line. These are likened to the Dead Sea Scrolls in importance to world history.

Given air pollution in Cairo and Alex and rising water tables from wasteful agricultural irrigation the manuscripts in the ground have little time left and those in government storage not much more.

Lack of skills in the history of multiple periods, in language skills in 4-8 languages and in preservation skills means that scholarly conservation and study just won’t get done in Egypt and little or nothing published. Without such published and analyzed sources the robotic work of the hole diggers will be like doing a big buy at the supermarket with no idea on how to put 10 ingredients into a workable and complicated recipe – a slight exaggeration.

Whilst the AUC in Cairo does nothing the American University in Beirut does much in manuscript preservation and posting them on line for universal scholarship. I guess if you don’t drink from the Nile ideas, hard work and a desire to communicate with the world comes rushing into your blood.

That the AUC is a standout for non-performance whilst it builds a new suburb for itself in the machine-gun protected suburbs should surprise no one. In the last few years its rating by independent bodies has dropped to lower than the worst university in Australia and our worst is dreadful.

The efforts of Israel and Turkey in manuscripts are legion.

That modern Egypt is little interested in the ancient written word should come as no surprise. Its newspapers and magazines are garbage, reading other than for study is rare, the scripts for almost all movies are sentimental clap-trap or crude raucous humor, debate is prohibited and current affairs on TV is more scream and shout than logical analysis and al Azhar and Coptic theology is worse than awful, learning including religious learning and practice is rote-learnt robotic. All up it’s a country with very low intellectual standards that likes the simple and grand – pyramids etc – but little else that demands careful thought.

The general picture of the Supreme Antiques is clear:

“Yet despite its power and potential, the ministry – like many Egyptian institutions – is often accused of being a quagmire of paperwork. Foreign archaeologists complain they sometimes can’t import the equipment they need, or export rock samples for analysis. Taking such samples to foreign laboratories is banned and, as a result, local digs are overlooked by international donors, who prioritise projects with access to the latest research techniques. “Bureaucracy is such a monster in Egypt,” said Giulio Lucarini, an archaeology professor whose digs are among those affected by the ban based in Cambridge.” ... n-pyramids

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