Results of Morsi’s governance for archeology
By Vestnik Kavkaza
Egyptologists are being driven mad by the events in Egypt. The country of great-many-centuries culture, famous throughout the whole world for its monuments, faced a situation when unique ancient monuments appeared to be unprotected from human, after the first events of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Viktor Solkin, member of the International Association of Egyptologists, tells how the Egyptians defended their culture.
“The events connected with loss of monuments from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo were stopped quickly. It was not the authorities, ministries, the police, but common Egyptian guys and girls, students, aspirants, young inspectors of the Supreme Council for Antiquity, who defended the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the National Temple of Amon in Karnak, the Alexandria Library hand in hand for three days. The robbers were policemen. It confirmed a unique character of the Egyptian people, who saved their antiquities, their history, their culture, despite the authorities’ decision,” Solkin said.
According to him, the situation seemed stable, and the well-known archeologist Muhammad Ibrahim came to the Ministry for Antiquities. But when Muhammad Morsi began his term, a new minister was appointed – Ahmed Asa, who was a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Local residents began to seize lands near the pyramids, as if they needed it for cemeteries because there was a lack of graveyards. In fact these were illegal archaeological diggings. In the Dakhshur archaeological zone several young inspectors had to address directly the army, the military command, who entered the archaeological zone and prevented further plundering of unique monuments.
Recently, representatives of the local mafia drove on bulldozers and started to lay to waste the temple of Rameses III to build new commercial center buildings. It was stopped by young inspectors who simply lay down in the field and didn’t let the bulldozers move.
The most awful example concerns the region of the Faiyum Oasis, the Abusir al Melek necropolis. The necropolis was founded before the establishment of the pharaohs’ statehood – in 3200 c. B.C. It existed till the 7th century A.D. Thus, it includes the whole history of Egypt – pharaohs, Christian Egypt, and the beginning of Muslim governance in Egypt. Abusir al Melek lost its historic context, while these were pieces which could actually present the whole history of the Ancient Egyptian civilization on one territory.
Monika Hanna, a young Egyptologist from the American University in Cairo, organized a group of young inspectors, archaeologists and historians who monitored the situation. Miss Hanna has many times received threats from people who rob archaeological monuments. However, she managed to stop the process. Monika Hanna is not alone. Actually in every town, every village of Egypt young people united and saved the situation at the beginning of Morsi’s rule, who wasn’t interested in saving Egyptian antiquities.
“Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Syria… Egypt was the only country where people came to the streets hand in hand and defended cultural treasures. I think this is the best confirmation that the country will have a brilliant future, including issues of cultural dialogue and the preservation of cultural heritage monuments,” Viktor Solkin thinks.