Saturday, April 25, 2009

Site management in Egypt (Zahi Hawass)

I am very proud that since I took office as the Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, I have been able to bring the concept of site management to Egypt for the first time. We are now implementing comprehensive, long-term programs all over the country, combining historic preservation with the construction of facilities that improve the experience of visitors to Egypt’s monuments.

In 2002, I initiated a full-scale effort to implement site management projects all over Egypt. I published the outlines of this plan in the proceedings of the Eight International Congress of Egyptolgists ("Site Management and Conservation," pages 48-61 in Egyptology at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000. Cairo: American Unversity in Cairo Press, 2003). We have concentrated our work on sites that are frequented by tourists, as mass tourism is one of the most serious threats to Egypt's tombs and temples. The main elements of the plan are:

1. Creating safe zones around archaeological sites to protect them from their outside surroundings and environmental threats. We have put this protective measure in place at sites including the Unfinished Obelisk Quarry in Aswan, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Saqqara, Pompey's Pillar in Alexandria, and Kom El-Dikka. We are currenlty working to do so in many other locations, inlcuding Tell Basta and San El-Hagar in the Delta and Marina, to the west of Alexandria.

2. Building visitors' centers to introduce the sites to tourists. We have finished visitors' centers for a number of sites, including the Unfinished Obelisk Quarry, Edfu, Deir El-Bahari, and the Valley of the Kings.

3. Creating access routes to keep tourists away from the walls of monuments and other fragile areas of sites.

4. Building facilities for tourists, including bazaars, cafeterias, and restrooms.

5. Perhaps most importantly, we are putting coprehensive conservations plans in place for the sites, and working to ensure that we have highly trained specialists working in conservation and site management all over Egypt. We are educating our personnel on how to go about the day-to-day business of administering and preserving our monuments.

See the above page for the full story, with photographs.

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