Monday, August 15, 2005

Secrets from the Sand - No More Amateurs

This article, by Zahi Hawass, is reproduced here in its entirety because the Egyptian Gazette does not archive articles, and it will not longer be available to view very shortly:
"Many people who excavate in Egypt believe that the rules announced three years ago for foreign expeditions to Egypt are new rules, formulated for the first time. Actually, almost all of these are old rules that have been on the books for years, but have never been enforced. There are only two new rules: first, that there should be publications in Arabic of all excavation results; and second, that no new excavations can be started in Upper Egypt (although new concessions can be granted in the Delta). All of the other rules were formulated long ago.We are entering a new era in Egypt. It is time to make protecting and caring for the monuments a priority, a job that requires the cooperation of all Egyptologists and scholars, both native and foreign. All of us need to dedicate our time to this effort.
There are, however, people who complain about the rules. Newspapers publish untrue statistics, claiming, for example, that the SCA has stopped over 100 expeditions from working. This is completely untrue. It is true that we no longer let anyone who wants to work in Egypt do so, and have turned down applications from people who are unqualified, or whose projects do not meet our clearly published criteria.
Who complains about these new rules? One example is a group of amateurs from France who want to drill inside the Great Pyramid, doing damage to prove a theory that has no basis and no academic support. Since the rules permit scholars to work only with the support of a reputable institution, they brought in a French Egyptologist to act as a dummy member of the team, simply to give them the authority to apply. This Egyptologist is not an expert on pyramids, and the application was rejected by the Permanent Committee, with the advice of the top experts in the field of pyramid studies.
We need people to understand that we are not against anyone. Our goal is to preserve the monuments of Egypt and protect our cultural heritage. To achieve this goal, we need everyone to follow and respect our rules. No more amateurs, no more non-scientific work. But to those who work with us, and care about Egypt's past, present, and future, we say thank you".

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