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The black basalt sarcophagus of Unas in the funerary chamber of his pyramid

Unas was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, the ninth and last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He succeeded Djedkare Isesi, who might have been his father, and reigned for 15 to 30 years in the mid 24th century BC. During this time Egypt maintained trade relations with the Levantine coast and Nubia, and may have launched a military campaign in southern Canaan. A period of declining royal power and decentralization of administrative functions continued under him, ultimately contributing to the collapse of the Old Kingdom some 200 years later. Unas built a pyramid in Saqqara, the smallest of the royal pyramids completed during the Old Kingdom. The accompanying mortuary complex with its high and valley temples linked by a 750 m (2,460 ft) causeway was lavishly decorated with painted reliefs, whose quality and variety surpass the usual royal iconography. His burial chambers were the first with the Pyramid Texts carved and painted on the walls, meant to help the king reach the afterlife by identifying him with Ra and Osiris. (Full article...)

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July 5: Seventeenth of Tammuz (Judaism, 2015); Independence Day in Algeria (1962) and Cape Verde (1975); Saints Cyril and Methodius Day in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

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Sheep are quadrupedal ruminants, typically kept as livestock. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it generally refers to Ovis aries. One of the first animals to be domesticated, sheep are likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. They are raised for their for fleece, meat, and milk.

Photograph: Keith Weller/Agricultural Research Service

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