A group of around 70 books, each containing between five and 15 lead leaves and bound by lead rings have come to light in Israel. The artefacts were originally discovered between 2005 and 2007 after a flash flood exposed two niches inside a cave in northern Jordan. The books, thought to be almost 2,000 years old, could be the earliest Christian writing in existence and are written mostly in coded ancient Hebrew. A scholar of ancient religious archaeology believes the relics to be of Christian origin rather than Jewish, due to some of the images decorating the covers of the books – one features an image of the city of Jerusalem, with a cross in the foreground and a small building with an opening, which is thought to represent the tomb of Jesus. The Jordanian government is now trying to get the relics repatriated back to the country where they were found, claiming that they were smuggled into Israel.
inth of sacred catacombs containing the mummified remains of millions of dogs has been excavated under the Egyptian deserts. Experts working on the Catacombs of Anubis project, led by Cardiff University’s Paul Nicholson, are now examining the tunnels, found beneath the desert at Saqqara in Egypt. It is believed that the catacombs contain the remains of some eight million dogs and jackals, many of which were only hours or days old when they were killed and mummified. It is likely the dogs were bred in their thousands in special puppy farms around the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, and acted as an intermediary between the donor and the gods.
Image: Hendrikje Nouwens, an Egyptologist from the Netherlands, examines one of the dogs buried in a special wall niche. Remains of the wooden coffin can be seen. Photo: Dr Paul T. Nicholson