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Rosetta Stone Dispute continues…

Egypt’s head of antiquities will drop a demand for the permanent return of the Rosetta Stone if the British Museum agrees to a 3 month loan, he says. The Stone – a basalt slab dating back to 196BC which was key to the modern deciphering of hieroglyphics – has been at the museum since 1802. Dr Zahi Hawass has long called for foreign museums to return six of the most prized antiquities of Egypt.

For more information on the Rosetta Stone, try The Rosetta Stone by R B Parkinson available from This book is written by the Egyptian curator at the British Museum – that is the man currently in charge of the real Rosetta stone.

The persecution of witches

It’s a fact that people practice witchcraft. It’s also a fact that people accused of witchcraft get beaten, humiliated and even killed in our 21st century society. As a site with many Wiccan fans and contirbutors, we felt it was only right to draw attention to those who suffer at the hands of people who do not understand this peaceful practice, and instead use it as an undefined label to attach to the weak or troublesome in society.

Right now in Saudi Arabia a man, and woman are on death row charged with different witchcraft offences. In October, five women were paraded naked, beaten and forced to eat human excrement by villagers after being branded as witches in India’s Jharkhand state. It’s often widows who are accused of supernatural powers, or others easily targeted for their wealth, land and property. In parts of Africa, however, it’s children who are branded, beaten and even killed for being ‘witches’.

At Upon Reflection, we don’t want to make sweeping statements in our short news blogs, nor do we want to show preference to one charitable cause over another, but we thought that it was a topic worth drawing attention to – no matter how briefly. If you want to find out more about how you can get involved in helping those accused of being witches, visit the Stepping Stones charity website and find out how you can get involved.

Pictish Throne Recreated

The first Pictish throne to be built in more than a thousand years has been unveiled at the National Museum of Scotland. A throne built to a design used by the ancient Picts has gone on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The seat was created by master furniture maker Adrian McCurdy who drew inspiration from stone carvings. The Picts dominated Scotland north of the Firth of Clyde from the 4th to the 9th centuries AD, leaving behind these symbol stones.

The throne will go on display first at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre from 1 December and at the Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, next year. It will be displayed at other sites later.

Why is Friday the 13th unlucky?

In any year there will be a Friday the 13th, and in 2009 there have been 3 – the most possible in a single year and something that won’t happen again until 2015. So we thought that it merited a closer look.

There is no written documentation of Friday the 13th being unlucky until the 19th century, but since most folklore was spoken, not written, it is hard to track the origin of this superstition. Here are some of the most popular theories, we’ll leave you to decide which is true:

Amalgamation of Superstisions:
– In numerology 12 is considered the number of completeness, and 13 is seen as irregular and unnatural. Friday has been seen as unlucky in many religions and cultures, even in the 21st Century.

Norse Mythology:
– According to Norse mythology, Friday is named for Frigga (Freya), the goddess of love and fertility. When the tribes converted to Christianity, she was banished in to a mountaintop as a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the goddess convened a meeting of 13 (eleven other witches and the devil) and plotted evil deeds for the coming week.

Knights Templar
– King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 – Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th as a day of Good Luck:
– The Chinese regarded 13 as lucky, as did the ancient Egyptians. To the latter, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which had twelve stages in this life and a thirteenth in the eternal afterlife.

Patriarchal Religions’ conspiracy
– There is speculation that the number 13 was vilified by founders of patriarchal religions because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the “perfect” number 12 over the “imperfect” number 13, thereafter considered anathema.

Egypt bringing its antiquities home

Egyptian archaeologists are traveling to the Louvre in Paris later this month to collect five ancient fresco fragments stolen from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in the 1980s. These are just some of the “stolen” antiquities which they are seeking to return to Egypt.

The most high-profile item that the archaeologists would like to see returned home is the Rosetta Stone, which is the only artefact in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which is not real. The real stone is in the British Museum.

If the Stone cannot be returned permanently, Mr Hawass would at least like it back on loan for the opening of Egypt’s Grand Museum at Giza, due by 2013. So far there has been only a cautious response.

Thousands of artefacts were spirited out of Egypt during the period of colonial rule and afterwards by archaeologists, adventurers and thieves. According to a 1972 United Nations agreement, artefacts are the property of their country of origin and pieces smuggled out must be returned.