Sunday, October 08, 2006

A tall tale - Esna's hoax obelisk

"Early this week the Upper Egyptian city of Esna was peacefully going about its usual business. Farmers were busy in the fields, merchants were trading in the market and weavers sat in front of their looms. Housewives were cooking Ramadan's iftar meals. Yet on Monday the city woke up to breaking news: a Ptolemaic obelisk dating from the reign of the famous Queen Cleopatra VII, found half-buried under the house of an Esna resident named Sayed Mahmoud, was up for sale with an asking price of $100 million.
The obelisk was said to be six metres high, carved of schist and decorated with hieroglyphic texts, lotus flowers and cartouches featuring Queen Cleopatra's face and profile. The news appeared on the Internet as well as in several Egyptian and foreign newspapers.
Intensive investigations carried out by the Esna police and antiquities inspectors, however, revealed the story to be a hoax and an attempt by Mahmoud, a well-known local crook, to defraud tourists by spreading a rumour that antiquities lay buried under his house."
See the above page for the full story.

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