Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From Ray Johnson about Luxor

Luxor News - Jane Akshar

A number of issues have been raised lately regarding the urban renewal program in Luxor and its effects on the local population, tourism, antiquities preservation, and the archaeological community.

The Epigraphic Survey of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago based at Chicago House is one of many archaeological missions in Luxor which has borne witness to and been impacted by these changes, and is one of the many voices of the scientific community here who have joined in the development conversation between the city, the SCA, archeological missions, and the local population since the inception of the program by the city several years go. The community of archaeologists in Luxor has been far from silent during this whole process. We may not have been very effective in curtailing some of the more onerous aspects of the present program, but we have certainly not been silent.

The development program for Luxor, including many of the artists' projections of the changed landscape shown in the web site above (many of which have already happened) was announced to the archaeological community in 2006 in a PowerPoint presentation given by Luxor governor Dr. Samir Farag at the Luxor Museum, after which there was a fairly lively discussion among those present; I was one of them. During the discussions it was made clear that the programs planned for the antiquities sites themselves were designed by the SCA and city together, and were about to be launched. We had about two weeks warning.

The issues that the new development program address have been of concern to the Government of Egypt (GOE) and SCA for a long, long time, but until now the SCA alone did not have the resources to deal with them properly. The main issues are:

1. The need to enlarge and upgrade Luxor's infrastructure and antiquities site facilities to accommodate radically expanded tourism, east and west bank.

2. The encroachment of the modern community on antiquities sites, east and west bank.

3. The excavation and development of new antiquities sites (like the sphinx road between Luxor and Karnak temples) for tourism, but which (the thinking goes) will also safeguard the sites from future encroachment.

See the above page for the full story.

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