A story writing blog

Monday, November 24, 2014


I just found the weirdest little side note to a story.

I am sitting here reading a wikipedia page about an old Egyptian army that went missing in the desert because that's the kind of thing I do and something really jumped out at me. It was the words "severed penis". I thought "heh...weird, I wasn't expecting that to come into play". The accompanying explanation was weirder than I thought...I thought maybe they were chopping off their penises (I just learned I had no idea what the plural of the word 'penis' was) for ceremonial reasons. I knew I was reading an article about a lost ancient Egyptian army and I knew severed penises (or penii) were a part of this story in some way and my mind's first conclusion was that of a weird, ancient penis ceremony where they chop them off, maybe as a sacrifice to the gods. That wasn't it.
In November 2009, two Italian archaeologists, Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, announced the discovery of human remains, tools and weapons which date to the era of the Persian army. These artifacts were located near Siwa Oasis.[16] According to these two archaeologists this is the first archaeological evidence of the story reported by Herodotus. While working in the area, the researchers noticed a half-buried pot and some human remains. Then the brothers spotted something really intriguing—what could have been a natural shelter. It was a rock about 35 meters (115 feet) long, 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) high and 3 meters (9.8 feet) deep. Such natural formations occur in the desert, but this large rock was the only one in a large area.[17]

However, these "two Italian archaeologists" presented their discoveries in a film rather than a scientific journal. Doubts have been raised because the Castiglioni brothers also happen to be the two filmmakers who produced five controversial African shockumentaries in the 1970s—including Addio ultimo uomo, Africa ama, and Africa dolce e selvaggia—films in which audiences saw unedited footage of the severing of a penis, the skinning of a human corpse, the deflowering of a girl with a stone phallus, and a group of hunters tearing apart an elephant’s carcass.[18]

The Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, has said in a press release that media reports of this "are unfounded and misleading" and that "The Castiglioni brothers have not been granted permission by the SCA to excavate in Egypt, so anything they claim to find is not to be believed."[19]


Why? Why didn't I have the 'safe search' turned on when I googled "penis ritual"?

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