Friday, September 23, 2005

Farming threatens ancient Egyptian sites
"Egyptian reliefs dating back thousands of years could disappear within a decade, archaeologists said on Thursday. As Egypt's population grows, agricultural land moves closer to ancient temples and funeral monuments. Water for irrigation is weakening temple foundations and eroding the carvings". Nigel Hetherington, Conservation Manager for the Theban Mapping Project, is quoted highlighting problems of eroded carvings and undermined foundations due to the use of irrigation to extend farming into the desert regions occupied by some of Egypt's most important Pharaonic monuments. Zahi Hawass is also quoted, saying that he expects to present a new law to parliament in January, which will aim to "protect land around the ancient sites from farmers trying to take it without permission". See the article for the full CBC News story about this important subject.

This story is covered in some more detail at the following URL, where Nigel Hetherington contrasts the response to the slow erosion of monuments today to the reaction to the threat of flooding to Abu Simbel: " When the towering rock face statues of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt were under threat from flooding during the construction of the Aswan dam in 1960, an international rescue effort led by UNESCO relocated the statues block by block.But gradual erosion over a number of years is not dramatic enough to capture international attention, Hetherington said".

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