Sunday, 21 October 2012


Here lies Novocastrius III,
from Skive Magazine, 3 Dec, 2003

NEWCASTLE AUSTRALIA:   On Saturday last, a group of three young friends discovered to their amazement what would turn out to be the remains of an ancient Egyptian tomb that was originally discovered by archaeologists in 1920, then lost again, it was feared, for all time.

The young people, all 11 and 12 years of age, told SKiVE about their discovery and wanted to remain anonymous. Of course 'wanting' and 'getting' are two different things... Here are their names: Michael Zembert, Kathi Chermolian and Bradley Bradleyson.

The friends were playing in a vacant lot in Newcomen Street, searching for old bottles to sell at The Bottle Emporium in King Street when they came across a stone wall with strange markings. They reported their findings by phone to the University of Newcastle's Egyptology Department, who quickly referred them to Ancient History at the Newcastle Technical College in Tighes Hill (who have more extensive research material than the uni's well-known slide rule and framed picture of Rameses II).

The tomb was revealed after The Newcastle Herald had a block next to them cleared in preparation for a 7 storey subediting highrise to be called 'The Tye-Poe Center'. The previous week some construction workers had noticed the strange markings but believed them to be part of 'Ahmose The Sailor', a famous Egyptian-themed deli that was famously popular in the late 1880s.
Doctor Xavier Filament of Steele Street said he thought the wall was part of the set of Cecille B. Demilles' 1920s epic, 'Nefertari The Beautiful', which was filmed in and around Newcastle.
In fact the tomb is that of the lesser-known satrap pharaoh Novocastrius III, after whom Newcastle is named. Novocastrius governed from 1000 to 1070 A.D. and became fat and wealthy with a monopoly on bricks as well as the ensuing Cobblestone Rush of 1049 A.D.

When Novocastrius died in 1070 A.D. of acute arthritis (he liked to count his bricks after every day till midnight), the whole city had the day off and headed for the 'Maize & Beer Porridge Hotel' (now The Grand) on King Street for a quiet beer. If you go there today you can still see the stool when Novocastrius sat every afternoon, his name is engraved on it in the form of traditional cartouche with the hieroglyph of a block & tackle and a dapper frog with a fancy crown.

Archaeologists have roped off the area around the tomb and plan to be there for a period of four years to conduct a survey, which funnily enough is the same about of time the grant money for the dig runs out.

William Billingham-Smith (Humanities & Inhumanities)

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