Sunday, June 05, 2011

Saqqara gets a security upgrade

Egyptian Gazette

The guards at the Saqqara Pyramids have cast aside their wooden sticks in favour of loaded guns.

The Government has beefed up security in historic sites to protect them from theft after the January 25 Revolution.

This change in security philosophy has been prompted by the constant pillaging of antiquities there over the past four months.

Encouraged by the mysterious disappearance of policemen on January 28, the antiquity thieves went into action in broad daylight. Their haul was huge, including the contents of royal tombs, which they badly damaged in the process of pillaging them.

Saqqara was the final resting place for the dead in the New and Late Kingdom (1539 to 1069 BC).

The new security philosophy was announced by Egypt’s chief archaeologist, the Minister for Archaeological Affairs Zahi Hawass, during his opening of six royal cemeteries from the New and Late Kingdom.

Hawas disclosed that more than 17,000 guards deployed at major archaeological sites across the country will be equipped with loaded guns. Veteran instructors from the Ministry of Interior will give the guards, known as ghafir (sentries) intensive training.

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