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 Site Management / Renovation

Contents:

  Renovation Work on Pharaonic Monuments around Egypt
  More on the Ramesses II Statue Move
  Renovation of Silver Artefacts
  Theban Mapping Project completes KV Masterplan
  Red Sea Archaeological sites
  Climate Change and its Impact on the Nile Delta
  One Man’s Crusade to Protect Egypt’s Cultural Heritage
  Site Management Project in the Delta
  Information Technology and World Heritage Sites in Arab States
  CultNat Moves to New Premises
  Site Management of the Aswan Quarries
  Site Management at Elephantine



Renovation Work on Pharaonic Monuments around Egypt

This autumn the permanent committee of the SCA agreed to allow a German archaeological mission to conduct a study of the Tuna al-Jebal tombs in Minya, Middle Egypt, in preparation for renovating them. The German mission will launch an archaeological survey of the area and then start conservation work on the tombs before instigating a site management plan to transform the site into a tourist destination.

An urgent project will start soon to preserve the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari on the instructions of Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni. The project will cost LE7 million, as part of a grant from the American Research Centre in Egypt to preserve and develop the Valley of the Kings. The total grant is estimated at US$10 million. Supreme Council for Antiquities Secretary-General Zahi Hawass said that the project includes providing the Temple of Hatshepsut with close circuit cameras to monitor visitors inside the temple for security purposes. He explained that visitors will only be allowed in through one entrance, which will be an electronic gate for checking visitors' personal belongings. Hawass added that lighting round the temple will be upgraded to allow visitors entry at night, especially in the summer. (http://www.algomhuria.net.eg/gazette/2/) The temple has been under restoration for over 40 years by a Polish team and was investigated by Howard Carter amongst many others. When the temple was originally found it had the remains of a ruined Coptic monastery on it. This monastery was demolished so that the temple could be excavated.

At the mainly intact Roman city of Marina, on the Mediterranean coast in the West Delta, the SCA in collaboration with a Polish team are transforming the site into an 'archaeological site museum'. Due to its historic and archaeological significance, measures have been taken to protect it from the creeping urbanisation of modern summer resorts. The Third Century AD site was first discovered in 1986 when a Chinese company was engaged in construction work exposed parts of columns and baths. A survey, conducted to probe the area revealed further remains of the 1.5 km city.

Excavations at the site have revealed 28 villas and 200 tombs, along with temples, palaces, cisterns, and baths. In the cemetery is a memorial to the Roman emperor, Caesar Commodus. The team have also managed to outline the features of the city and the roads that linked it to a harbour. Remains of the harbour were found underwater, including quays and breakwaters. Several painted death masks - known as the 'Faiyum Portraits' - were found in good condition. Items used for everyday life, such as lamps, spoons, glasses and chairs were also found. A statue of the Aphrodite, sitting on a white marble rock was also among the excavated items. Stables have been located alongside villas and the city was found to have had an advanced sewerage system. The conservation of this Classical city includes renovation of the mud-brick walls along with restoration of the tombs and memorials.

For the past decade the Cintec (manufactures of structural reinforcement anchors based in Newport, Wales, U.K.) team have been doing their bit for archaeology in ancient Egypt, stabilising mosques many hundreds of years old, after damage from the earthquakes of the early 1990s. However, today they are in the middle of their most exciting venture yet: restoring the Temple of Hibis in the Kharga Oasis. The temple, originally built in the Persian Period, c. 558 BC, was dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The temple, one of the largest and best preserved in the oasis under went restoration work in the 1950s. As these restorations were unsightly and insufficient to do the job the Cintec team are replacing these with anchors. These anchors literally stitch the building back together again. Cintec anchors are sympathetic to the building lying dormant until the masonry moves, then they hold the building together. The building then has great strength and is flexible enough to withstand great movements. The anchors can be as large as any building and unlike traditional methods of anchoring hold the building along its entire length, instead of at key points. (http://icwales.co.uk/printable_version.cfm?objectid=16206663&siteid-500)

Christian Leblanc, Director of the archaeological mission of the Centre National des Recherce Scientific (CNRS) and his team have made plans to move the visitors’ entrance to the Ramesseum from the middle of the second court to the first court. This will give visitors a much better idea of the way the temple was originally entered and viewed. The water damage to the temple is mainly in the area of the first court because of the underground rock. Christian Leblanc would like to purchase the agricultural land in front of the temple and make it like Medinet Habu with a paved area in front of the first pylon. This is a very long-term plan.

The gateway of the first pylon was bricked up in 1991, a fortuitous move as there was an earthquake in 1992. At present the first pylon is quite unstable and ruined. The team would very much like to take it apart and reassemble. However this would take much work and resources. If it goes ahead a separate team would be required to conduct work on it. Because of the nature of the gateway this could be rebuilt without affecting the pylons as it is a separate structure. The excavations in the area around the temple have revealed a school near to the bakeries and kitchens. This is the first time a school and its documents have been found together and has greatly increased our knowledge about schools.

The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project (Memnon/Amenhotep III Project), under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo (DAIK) and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), is casting light on a great Dynasty XVIII monument that was swept away soon after its completion. The project under the direction of Dr Hourig Sourouzian, is concerned with the excavation and conservation of the mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III (1387-1348 BC), which was originally constructed by his chief architect - Amenhotep son of Hapu. The aim of the project is to preserve as much as possible of the entire temple complex, stabilise and conserve its remains as much as possible, build an on-site museum, move tourist buses a safe distance away, and prepare a tourist circuit to present the temple with dignity to the visitors. Unlike many of the other temples in the Luxor area, where walls, sometimes even ceilings remain, all that is left of Amenhotep’s mortuary temple are hundreds of inscribed masonry blocks and pieces of statues. The position of there scant remains give the team clues as to the locations of pylons and walls that are no longer there. The bad state of preservation of the archaeological remains leads to the general assumption that the temple, of which the colossi were part, was totally swept away by a particularly high flood or an earthquake some time after its completion. All that remained were collapsed pylons, walls, columns and statues, some of which were re-used by later Pharaohs for their own temples, or collected by modern travellers and scholars. The ruin was subsequently obscured - all, that is, but for the seated colossi and a quarter of a mile to the rear, a sandstone stele inscribed with a dedicatory text.


Colossal statues of Amenhotep III standing in front of his mortuary temple.

Although the mortuary temple has been subjected to several archaeological campaigns, some taking away inscribed blocks and stelae in the past, no archaeological missions, apart from some spasmodic interventions by the SCA, had worked within the temple proper for decades and as such, it has never been systematically excavated and planned. In 1989 it was feared that the Colossi of Memnon were tilting markedly to the south; and the following year, at the request of the SCA, a photogrammatic survey of the seated statues was conducted by Reiner Stadelmann, then director of the German Archaeological Institute and husband of Hourig Sourouzian. It was reassuring to note that the statues were not under threat of collapse as was feared. However, some years later, in the temple proper, a devastating fire erupted in the area of the Peristyle Court. This fire in the mortuary temple was the catalyst for the project, along with the other common Egyptian threats of a rising water table caused by irrigation of the surrounding fields, salt from subterranean water, and creeping vegetation. The fire caused serious damage, splitting some of the beautifully inscribed stones; some reliefs were seriously damaged by the heat and dense smoke.


The mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and the stele at the back of the temple.

In 1997, with the backing of professors Gaballa A Gaballa and Sabri Abdel-Aziz, a permit to conduct urgent conservation work was applied for from the SCA. A year later, the site of Kom Al-Hettan (the name for the area where the temple is located) was included in the list of the world's 100 most endangered monuments by the World Monuments Watch, and with a grant by the World Monuments Fund, the DAIK team started emergency conservation. In 1998-99, a multinational team consisting of 30 members from 12 countries was formed to start emergency work and draw up a long-term project, and in 2000 the team embarked on a really ambitious plan to produce a detailed archaeological and topographical study of the area in the form of maps. One of the first steps in any archaeological conservation project is to fully document the remains, for which it was necessary to excavate and identify the remains, as well as record the locations of the disappeared pylons and other architectural elements. The team also looks for monuments recorded as having been seen in the past, but are no longer visible on the site. The project also gained a generous donation from Madame Monique Hennessy through the Association des Amis des Colosses de Memnon, the continuous efforts of Monsieur Fouquet, vice-president of the association; lately, Frderverein Memnon founded by Dr Ursula Lewenton, gave a generous donation of equipment to lift colossal statuary, and the project was again selected in 2004, by the World Monuments Watch. Thanks to the grants from Robert W. Wilson's 'Challenge to Conserve our Heritage', Jack A Josephson, a supporter of the World Monuments Fund, and one by the ARCE/AEF, the team has been able to move ahead with emergency conservation and plans for a dewatering project.

Last season, with the help of air cushions the mission concentrated on lifting the huge torso of the northern colossus located next to the Second Pylon of the temple, a 450-tonne structure. The decorated parts of the colossus were treated by a conservation team, and on completion of the work, the whole thing was wrapped in fabric to prevent the action of sun, salt and vandalism over the holiday season. To help plan the extent of the temple resistivity and magnetrometry surveys have been conducted. The conservation and restoration of the temples many pieces of statuary is also on of the missions major tasks, finding small pieces of a statue and putting them back together. One of the most important discoveries was that of a statue of Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III, which had been lying on her side in the mud near the Second Pylon beneath the collapsed colossus of the Pharaoh. The queen once stood to the right of the Pharaoh's throne, and her statue, including crown and feathers, measures 3.25m in height. The excavation of this exquisite statue required the area to be dewatered using heavy pumping equipment. Another fascinating discovery was that of a large statue of a hippopotamus.

Plans for the coming (2005/2006) archaeological season, include provisions for dewatering the temple precinct, starting the area of the Peristyle Court, where trial trenches have been carried out in preparation for the project. Underground water remains a serious problem, and any comprehensive site management or long-term conservation plan will fail so long as the site continues to be threatened by water leakage, salt, vegetation growth, fire, and bacterial damage. Once the Peristyle Court is completely excavated, planned and conserved, the team plans to open it to visitors, with space reserved for statuary in a kind of modern open-air museum.

The Egyptian-French committee assigned to save Karnak Temple have so far completed the restoration of the Priests' Residences in the vicinity of the Sacred Lake, the northern wing of the fourth pylon, and parts of the reliefs found on the outer part of the Hypostyle Hall. Earlier this year the team uncovered a rare Dynasty XII statue of King Neferhotep I under the Hatshepsut Obelisk. This statue was part of a dyad. As the second statue lies under part of the portico, the team are currently working on plans on how to remove the pair of statues without damaging the obelisk or portico.


The Festival Hall of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut’s Obelisk at Karnak.

A Japanese team has completed the first phase of the restoration of the Tomb of the Dynasty XVIII ruler Amenhotep III. This first phase included cleaning the tomb and photographing the walls with their engravings of the King and the gods. Other work involved repairing some of the engravings that were damaged and strengthening the walls and columns. Meanwhile, the fungi and bacteria on the walls were killed by the team, using chemicals that would not harm the engravings. Other work involved repairing some of the engravings that were damaged and strengthening the walls and columns. Meanwhile, the fungi and bacteria on the walls were killed by the team, using chemicals that would not harm the engravings. By taking X-rays of the monument, the Japanese members of the team were able to pinpoint the constituents of the paints used by the Pharaohs to colour their engravings, including the pigments orpiment (used to make a yellow colour), hematite (for white) and arsmeti (for orange).

The SCA has launched an LE10 million project for the renovation of the temple of Serabit el-Khadim and the nearby turquoise mines in the central Sinai. The temple was originally constructed in Dynasty XII, built in honour of the Goddess Hathor. These two sites will then be open for eco-tourism. (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/751/hr1.htm) This site management plan is part of a larger scheme of site management programmes that are intended to not only create a better experience for tourists, but preserve the sites and bring in more funds. This programme will also give archaeologists the opportunity to make important discoveries. Other sites that are having site management plans developed for them include: Saqqara, Amarna, Meidum, Beni Hasan, Tanis, and Tell Basta. In about two years, all the main archaeological sites will be managed and protected. Outside the exits of the sites will be interpretation centres with shops inside selling replica artefacts, books, slides, and other products. However, these centres main function will be to inform the visitors about the sites they are about or have just visited.

In February solutions for solving the problem of water beneath Graeco-Roman Temple of Khnum at Esna were invited. The high level of subterranean water at Esna was caused by the construction of the Esna barrages, which raise water levels behind them. The water has slightly affected the walls and foundation of the temple. Moreover, the ground level of the city of Esna is now about nine metres higher than the level of the temple. The absence of a drainage system in the city has also added to the rising subterranean water level. One of the suggested solutions is to dig a ditch around the temple and use pumps to remove the water already there. The only excavated part of the temple is the Hypostyle Hall; the rest still buried under the modern city of Esna. A restoration project to remove the soot along with accumulated salts will be implemented side-by-side with rescue project. Another solution being considered to save what remains of the temple from any further damage is dismantling it and relocating it to a more suitable location. The decision as to where exactly it should be relocated has yet to be made.

In April 2005, the Sobek Temple at Kom Ombo reopened after a renovation project costing L.E.15 million. A new museum displaying mummified crocodiles and built near the restored temple was also inaugurated.

In March 2005 the Minister of Culture, Farouq Hosni re-opened the two tombs of Kings Thutmose III and Merenptah at the Valley of the Kings after a six-month closure for restoration. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said the two tombs of Kings Ramesses III and Ramesses VI, in the meantime, will be closed for regular rejuvenation works.

On the recommendation of Subterranean Water Research Institute studies, the SCA is currently supervising the implementation of such dewatering projects in several Upper Egyptian sites. Commenting on the projects, Mohamed Abdul Fatah, head of the Central Administration for Egyptian Antiquities, said that the Osirion in Abydos, Sohag, had witnessed high subterranean water levels owing to large plantations in the vicinity of the archaeological site. The lack of a sewerage project for the surrounding housing agglomeration has made the situation worse. Fatah went on to say that the water has adversely affected reliefs on the walls of the tomb. A Swiss team working with the SCA started work on a plan to save the Osirion last winter. The major problem focuses on the subterranean chamber that connects the temple with the Nile, and flooded when the Nile waters rose. At present there are a lot of fallen stones in this chamber, which due to the high ground water remains permanently flooded. The Swiss team are expected to start work this winter on removing the fallen stones and sealing the chamber so that ground water cannot leach in. The structure will then be renovated using the fallen stones and then reopened to the public.

The Ashmunein area in Minya is another site being treated from subterranean water. Despite the significance of the site throughout the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman ages, it has suffered much in modern times from underground water. Ashmunein was the capital of the 15th Upper Egyptian province, located to the west of the Nile. It retains traces of temples dating to the Middle and New Kingdoms. There are also remains of a Coptic basilica constructed on the foundations of a Ptolemaic temple built in the Greek architectural style.

The SCA is working with a German University to restore the tomb of Mentuhotep, opposite the Hatshepsut temple in Luxor. The tomb is in a bad condition due to a large part of the inscribed blocks having collapsed. The upper layer of the tomb is made of limestone followed by a layer of argil. This has collapsed due to a combination of factors including subsidence, erosion and corrosion. The limestone layer also suffers from many fissures. The temple is to be fully restored, which will include reassembling the relief inscriptions in order to read the texts and compare them with texts in other tombs. This requires a combination of the skills of reading hieroglyphics, restoration and geology being used together in a task likely to take about ten years.

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More on the Ramesses II Statue Move

The scaffolding surrounding the colossal statue of Ramesses II in Midan Ramesses, Cairo is to be taken down by the end of the year. The scaffolding was initially erected so that the statue could be assessed for its structural stability. The SCA, worried that the pollution and vibrations from the traffic and trains were damaging the statue employed the Arab Contractors to assess the logistics of moving the 90 tonne, 12 m high colossus to its proposed new location in the grounds of the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. This location is not far from its original home in the Temple of Ptah at Mit Rahina (Memphis), where a second colossal statue of Ramesses II is housed in a special museum. When the statue was originally excavated in 1882 it was found in six pieces and was only put back together again using huge iron bars inside the body in 1955 when it was to be erected at its present location.

The Arab Contractors sub-contracted the accurate 3-D recording of the statue to one of the world’s largest geomatics companies - Plowman Craven & Associates (PCA). Using a Leica HSS2500 laser scanner in combination with photogrammetry a millimetre accurate 3-D computer model of the statue was able to be made, including all the joints where the six pieces of the statue are joined, as well as visible fault lines and cracks. This has allowed a structural analysis of the component parts of the statue before it is dismantled and moved. This assessment also supplies the necessary information to create a purpose built cradle to hold the colossus. Zahi Hawass said that the scaffolding had now served its purpose as the assessment of the colossus was now complete and that it was only right that people should once again be able to gaze on this talisman of the city of Cairo. For more information on the uses of laser scanning in protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage see Current World Archaeology 9: 25-30.


Scaffolding surrounding the colossus of Ramesses II in Midan Ramesses in the centre of Cairo.

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Renovation of Silver Artefacts

The Minister of Culture, Farouq Hosni has approved plans to renovate silver artefacts and antiques on display at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Cairo. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the renovation is part of a master plan by the Ministry of Culture to maintain the metal artefacts through a €75,000 grant from the European Union. Some 1,400 ancient pieces, including sarcophagi, jewellery, crowns, belts and statues will be conserved.

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Theban Mapping Project completes KV Masterplan

The Theban Mapping Project's online survey concerning the future of the Valley of the Kings has now closed. Nigel Hetherington, Conservation Manager on the project says that this has become one of the largest public consultations ever undertaken on the future of a World Heritage Site. The resulting site management masterplan (funded by the World Monuments Fund) has been completed and hopefully implementation will begin later this year. Prof. Kent Weeks hopes that this project will be the template for other conservation work in the Thebes area. In addition, a revised version of the TMP’s ‘KV 5 a preliminary report’ is due out in March 2005.

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Red Sea Archaeological sites

In August 2005 Mr Khaled Saad, of the Prehistoric Antiquities Administration, said that the Ministry of Culture plans to convert Red Sea archaeological sites into tourist attractions (http://www.algomhuria.net.eg/gazette/4/1.asp). He also stressed that Red Sea is also distinguished for its natural heritage, which compliment the archaeological sites. A comprehensive restoration plan is to be implemented along roads leading to these sites. For instance, there are many rock art sites in and just off the wadis that run through the Red Sea Hills, inscribed there by ancient Egyptians who travelled through this area on commercial or military journeys. The Red Sea is also famous for not only prehistoric sites, but Pharaonic and Classical sites as well, including: Wadi Al Gimal, Marsa Alam, Sharm Al Louli and Wadi Al Gawasis. Excavations are proving that some of these sites were ports and that the inhabitants traded over long distances. Among the sites to be restored are the remains of the Roman-Byzantine Abu Shaara fortress. The limestone fortress lies on the coast and was central for trade, storage, administration and military purposes.

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Climate Change and its Impact on the Nile Delta

An article in the August Issue of Cairo Magazine focuses on the impacts of the changing environment on the future of the Nile Delta (http://www.cairomagazine.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=1169&format=html). It looks primarily at the economic and social consequences of increasing salinity and higher water tables, and the predicted loss of much of the present costal regions. The effects of the rising water table and increased salinisation are already being severely felt at many of the Delta’s archaeological sites, a point previously highlighted by many of ECHO’s trustees. The potential impacts of further increases in both the water level and salinity, as well as a demographic movement would be disastrous for the archaeology of the region. Many sites on the coast will become submerged, whereas others, not already under cultivation or swallowed by urban sprawl will be eaten up by the needs of the displaced population. However, a dyke system similar to that employed in the Netherlands may be a solution to the rising sea level if installed along the Mediterranean Coast. A 12 year plan to investigate the best methods of mitigating the effects of climate change is being proposed by Egypt’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Academy of Scientific Research.

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One Man’s Crusade to Protect Egypt’s Cultural Heritage

One of the first crusaders fighting to save Egypt’s cultural heritage was Prisse d'Avennes, a contemporary and colleague of John Gardner Wilkinson. This remarkable man was determined to save the stone blocks and columns of Karnak from being used to build the Pasha’s saltpetre factory. However, his fortitude provoked several violent incidents. He was beaten, stabbed and jailed, but was still not deterred. One of his young assistants, George Lloyd de Beynestyn, having been assailed by a fellah, used the butt of his gun in self-defence, but accidentally shot himself instead. To see more on the exploits of this great CHM pioneer and his attempts to preserve Egypt’s cultural heritage visit: http://www.egypttoday.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5336

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Site Management Project in the Delta

The Ministry of Culture has initiated a three phase site management project in the Sharqiyyah Province, aiming to provide more research, initiate restoration, protection, and better visitor access and information. The main sites to benefit from this are Tell Basta (Bubastis) and San el-Hagar (Tanis), although many other sites will also benefit. At Tell Basta an on-site, open-air museum has been established displaying 55 items from some of the major sites in the East Delta, such as: Bubastis, Tanis, Pi-Ramesses and Avaris). One of the main exhibits is the recently found colossal statue of Queen Meritamun, which was righted and lifted into position. There are also statues of various gods and also of Ramesses II and VI on display. At Tell Basta, the in situ monuments include: Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom shrines, a New Kingdom Temple dedicated to Amun and the Third Intermediate Period (and Late Period) cat (Bastet) cemetery and temples of Mihos and Bastet. The open-air museum is located in the forecourt of the Amun Temple.

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Information Technology and World Heritage Sites in Arab States

In October 2002 a conference titled: Heritage Management Mapping – GIS and Multimedia was held in the New Alexandria Library, Alexandria, Egypt. This event was sponsored by CultNat, The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt and UNESCO. The conference explored and demonstrated the successful application of Information Technology in the various areas related to the management of cultural and natural heritage sites; working towards a policy of heritage mapping for the Near East and how to apply GIS and other mapping methodologies to sites already inscribed or nominated for the World Heritage List.

One of the major outcomes of this conference was the first workshop on the use of Information Technology and World Heritage Sites in Arab States, hosted in Cairo, Egypt from the 17th February to 4th March 2004. This workshop was funded the Flemish Funds-in-Trust, and organised by the SCA and CultNat, and included an overview of the state of recording, documentation and information management techniques. Fieldwork exercises were held at WH site of Saqqara and included 25 representatives from Arab states. The fieldwork and also lectures were conducted by facilitators from the World Monuments fund, English Heritage, Getty Conservation Institute, the R. Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (K. U. Leuven) and the University of California at Berkley (http://whc.unesco.org/acb/).

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CultNat Moves to New Premises

In 2000, CultNat was formed out of the passion of four people: Prof. Fathi Saleh (CHM, engineer), Dr Reem Bahgat (ICT), Mr Mohammed Farouk (engineer) and Ms Mona Tawfik (engineer). It was originally located in one room in Ramesses Square; eventually it grew to occupy several apartments in Zamalek. Last month it moved from Zamalek to its new, three storey premises in Smart Village, on the Alexandria Road, just northwest of Cairo. This magnificent achievement is testament to the dedication and hard work of the founding individuals and their ever growing staff, and the quality of work that they are producing.

http://www.CultNat.org

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Site Management of the Aswan Quarries

A site management project at the Aswan Quarries under the auspice of the SCA, has gone into its Second Phase. The First Phase of the project consisted of moving the large rubbish dump that appeared over the years. The removal of this dumped revealed many hitherto unknown granite pieces, many of which were cracked or fragmentary, as well as unfinished statues, columns, capitals and obelisks dating from various periods of Egypt’s history. In situ obelisk - click to see a larger image

The Aswan Quarry is famous for yielding granite, used in the burial chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, and the lower portions of the casing stones of the other two pyramids at Giza. Many of the obelisks of the New Kingdom were cut from this quarry, including the Unfinished Obelisk – abandoned after a fissure was noticed in the rock - which still remains in the quarry. This magnificent monument, weighing over a 1,000 tons has been a tourist attraction for thousands years, revealing the secrets of the craft of the ancient stone masons, showing how the stone was hewn from the rock face and what constituted a good piece of granite.

Evidence of stone working in the Aswan Quarry - click to see a larger image Evidence of stone working in the Aswan Quarry - click to see a larger image The Second Phase of the project, the excavation of the site, has so far cleared over 100 cubic meters of debris and rubble, revealing how the stone was quarried, carved and transported the rock. Artefacts, including sculptors’ tools and diorite balls to carve and polish the objects were also recovered. The team exposed an ancient harbour from where the granite was shipped to all over Egypt, particularly Thebes and Memphis. On the walls of this harbour were found scenes depicting Bes, another showed a group of ostriches walking in the desert and another fish swimming in a lake. These scenes appear to be graffiti carved on the walls by the workers to decorate the environment in which they worked, or sketches for apprentice artists to follow. Also found were signs marking North and South and just to the south of the Unfinished Obelisk ware five lines of hieroglyphs from the 25th year of reign of Thuthmose III. This inscription was an order from the king, instructing the overseer of the quarry to cut two giant obelisks dedicated to the God Amun-Re and to be erected in his temple at Karnak. Obelisk Excavation Pit - click to see a larger image

The beds of seven obelisks were found just near the Unfinished Obelisk. Dr Zahi Hawass and his team estimate that the length of one of these depressions is the same height as an obelisk now in Italy. The team intend to measure the obelisks in Karnak and Luxor temples to see if there is any match with the depressions.

The Third and Final Phase of the project is to turn the site into an open-air museum and put in visitor pathways, signboards and a visitor centre. The open-air museum will have large artifacts left in situ and other unfinished objects will be transported back to the site interpretation center and museum. Some of the artifacts that will be transported back include an unfinished Roman baths and incomplete statue of Ramesses II found at Shellal and other objects found in Elephantine.

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Site Management at Elephantine

The ancient town of Elephantine has been cleared of rubbish and debris and is open to the public. On of the most interesting areas is the Old Kingdom tombs of the first explorers of darkest Africa at Qubbet Al-Hawa and the Early Dynastic temple to the local deity of Elephantine. The 5th Century Monastery of St. Simeon is also now open to the public. Although there is no visitor center, the nearby Nubian Museum displays many of the artifacts found on Elephantine.

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