Scientists began a restoration project at the Temple of Esna, located some 485 miles from Egypt’s present-day capital, Cairo. While many of the researchers expected to make an interesting discovery, what they found was truly breathtaking. Namely, the team uncovered long-lost zodiac paintings that are more than 2,200 years old! Find out all about the captivating discovery and how it was made.
The Egyptian Zodiac Treasure
The magnificent paintings that were found decorated the roof and walls of the 2,200-year-old temple, located in southern Egypt. The labor-intensive task required researchers to thoroughly clean some 2,000 years’ worth of grime and bird droppings in order to reveal the impressive paintings.
But what has led scientists to believe that the discovered paintings depict an ancient zodiac? Well, some of the restored images had a depiction of several planets. Others contained constellations that were commonly used by the ancient Egyptians to measure time. Typical for their culture at that time, the Egyptians also painted some of their gods and goddesses, hybrid creatures with human bodies and animal heads.
What Baffled Researchers
Previous works at the Temple of Esna have revealed some of the images, as well as the zodiac. What they found baffling was that, apart from the paintings, the restoration work showed previously unknown texts.
In itself, the ancient zodiac wasn’t invented by the ancient Egyptians, it’s the Babylonians who first came up with the idea. It was adopted by the Egyptians only after the Ptolemy dynasty came to rule Egypt, which lasted from 304 B.C. to 30 B.C.
Once adopted, the zodiac was used to decorate the resting chambers of various prominent individuals. Tombs and sarcophagi had images that represented different zodiac elements.
More Revelations Are Likely to Emerge
With work still being done at the Temple of Esna, researchers still have many other things to uncover. Presently, they’re working on analyzing the found inscriptions. However, more work has to be done on the cleaned paintings to reveal just how much they can tell us about ancient astrological beliefs. What we know for sure is that the uncovered zodiac paintings are very similar to the ones we rely on today.
During a previous restoration of the temple, scientists successfully unveiled some 46 images of gods and goddesses. The temple itself, researchers say, was dedicated to Khnum, an Egyptian deity who was associated with water and fertility.
The Temple of Esna is located 37 miles south of Luxor. Researchers say it was dedicated to Khnum, an Egyptian deity associated with water and fertility.
Tropical Birds Might Be Shrinking Due To Climate Change
In the untouched depths of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, researchers have been conducting studies on local bird populations. They were measuring the birds to create a baseline of the rainforest’s rich diversity to see how the habitat disruption from road construction and logging affects the rainforest’s wildlife. What they found out is that the birds are shrinking.
Amazonian Birds Are Shrinking
In Science Advances on November 12, researchers have reported that dozens of bird species in the Amazon rainforest have lost mass over the past 40 years, averaging a 2 percent body weight loss every decade. This change coincided with bird species developing longer wingspans. The most likely reason is climate change as learner bodies are more efficient and help the birds stay cooler in a more variable and hotter climate.
Less Mass Equals Better Temperature Control
Body size and temperature have been linked by researchers long ago. Greater mass relative to a smaller surface area reduces heat loss, so it pays to be larger in cold climates. An ecologist at the Integral Ecology Research Center of Blue Lake, Vitek Jirinec, explains how the opposite is true for hot climates where shrinking bodies allow birds to offload heat more efficiently.
Climate Change Is Happening Now
An ornithologist at the University of Michigan, Ben Winger, who wasn’t involved in this research has seen similar changes in birds across different contexts and he believes this speaks to a more universal phenomenon. He points out that climate change is something that is happening right now and isn’t an event coming up in the future.
Jirinec and colleagues checked data for non-migratory birds from 1979 to 2019 limited to intact regions of the Amazon. All researched species, including the Rufous-capped antthrush and the Amazonian motmot, declined in mass over time. Whether these shape and size-related changes are a physiological response to increasing temperatures or an evolutionary adaptation to climate change is still to be seen.