Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Comments about Luxor during Rice visit

An article about Condoleezza Rice's visit to Luxor, and her failure to see any of the heritage sites whilst she was there in spite of the fact that the U.S. Agency for International Development, an arm of the State Department, has contributed $78 million to a project that aims to save the temple and another site from the damaging effects of rising ground water. Of more interest, there's a comment at the very end by W. Raymond Johnson, field director of The Epigraphic Survey of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, commenting on the dangers of tourism to the monuments:
"Johnson said a rapid growth in tourism had begun to threaten the site. Hundreds of buses arrive each day to visit Luxor. Egyptian officials have decided to tear down several kilometers of the old town in order to extend the row of sphinxes to its original four kilometer length, even though experts have warned that not much may be left, leaving open the possibility that the result will look more like Luxor Casino in Las Vegas than ancient Egypt. At one point, Johnson showed a wall carved with narrative of a ancient battle. He noted that the Egyptians had a 'very fluid version of reality.' So the king never was wounded and never lost a battle. 'Reality was what you carved into the wall,' Johnson said."

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