Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why a flood of new archaeological discoveries?

Egypt Daily Star News (Nigel J. Hetherington)

Many of you may have questioned why, suddenly around this time of the year, a flurry of archaeological discoveries appears in the press and on television. Well, forget your conspiracy theories; there is a reason and it’s due to the almost unique way in which archaeology is practised in Egypt.

Egyptology and Egyptian archaeology are still overwhelming dominated by foreigners — the subject itself is a product of a colonial era.

However, this is changing. Encouraged by leading Egyptian archaeologists the youth of Egypt are beginning to engage with the study of their past in increasing numbers.

We steer away from the subject of the glut of new discoveries somewhat, yet an understanding of the present situation is needed.

Within the boundaries of Egypt, the body assigned the legal responsibility for the protection of antiquities, the oversight of archaeological excavations and the management of heritage sites (defined as anything over 100 years old), is the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The SCA is a department within the Ministry of Culture (MOC), headed by a Secretary General, a position now occupied by Dr Zahi Hawass.

At this point, it would be useful to consider a brief potted history of the SCA. The Supreme Council was formed during the colonial era in 1858, when it was originally called the Service des Antiquites, at which time it was run mainly by the French, and had control of all archaeological excavations in the country. After partial Egyptian independence in 1922, the service was increasingly brought under the control of Egyptian government officials and was finally renamed the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in 1971.

See the above page for the full story.

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