Monday, May 17, 2010

Relocation of cemetery for archaeological purposes

Al Masry Al Youm (Norhan Elkaheem)

The argument appears to be that the cemetery could overlie significant New Kingdom and Graeco-Roman remains.

Akhmim village, Sohag-- Two women, clad in black, and a young girl are kneeling over a pile of burning paper at the entrance of Akhmim village's sole, seven-century-old cemetery. They are partaking in what appears to be a death ritual, blowing wisps of smoke with pieces of cardboard papers, and speaking in hushed, hurried tones.

"My husband is buried here," says the younger of the two women before they scurry off into the narrow alley that leads to his grave.

But not for long. At the end of April, Sohag's governor announced that as of 1 May, the 150,000 residents of Akhmim would be banned from burying their dead in their traditional cemetary, which Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquites (SCA) recently designated as an archeological site . . . .

Since the cemetary was closed to the public, more than 50 bodies have been buried in a new cemetery on the outskirts of the village--a 77 feddan, LE80 million project funded equally by the SCA and the governorate. Bodies from the old cemetery, numbering in the thousands, will gradually be moved by their families after the Ministry of Health and Al-Azhar complete reports evaluating health and religious concerns.

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