Last week the Arabic daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat published an article by Ahmed Osman in which the Sphinx restoration project has been severely criticised.
The article points out that the Great Sphinx of Giza is still at risk of being damaged and a complete collapse could occur in a few years time -- despite the completion of a ten-year restoration project! Beneath the rock of the Giza Plateau the underground water level has been rising for the last fifty years causing salt to develop inside the stone forming the Sphinx's body. The article cites two main causes for the rising water table: the building of the Aswan Dam and the growth of the village of Nazlet El Samman, which extends between the Nile and the Giza Plateau.
According to the Cairo weekly Akhbar El Adab, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hadi, Dean of the Luxor College for Restoration, accused the restorers of using a chemical substance called "Nemex" in their restoration of the Sphinx's neck and chest. This, it is claimed, produced salts on the surface of the stone and led to the formation of a solid layer that can fall at any moment.
Dr. Ali Hassan, the former Secretary General of the S.C.A, told Ahmed Osman that instead of treating the real problem facing the Sphinx from underground water damage, the restorers built a layer of stone to cover the body of the statue, thus leaving it to deteriorate from the inside away from our eyes. Akhbar El Abad also reported Dr. Yaseen Zidan, a professor of restoration, as saying that the international organization of UNESCO has threatened to take the Sphinx off the list of protected world heritage monuments unless these problems are dealt with.
Rosetta Stone Poll Results
Over the past few months EDEN -- The Andrew Collins website has been hosting a poll focusing on whether or not the Rosetta Stone should be returned to Egypt. The poll was set up after authors Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock issued a plea for the return of the stone, suggesting "that the Rosetta Stone be flown in a special British Airways flight to Alexandria on the 31 December 1999 and there taken to the newly completed Bibliotheca Alexandrina -- the UNESCO Library Of Alexandria -- and placed in the main entrance hall."
The results of the poll indicate that 73 percent thought the Rosetta Stone should be returned whilst the remaining 27 percent voted for it to stay in the British Museum.
The Rosetta Stone was found in July 1799 by French soldiers during the occupation of Egypt by Napoleon and was eventually ceded to the British after the defeat of the French forces. It is made from a solid piece of black basalt and is inscribed with three forms of script: Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Greek that represent a single text honoring Ptolemy V (c.190 BCE). Scholars were able to decipher the Hieroglyphs through its relationship to the Greek script.
The Ptolemies were of Greek-Macedonian descent that ruled Egypt between 323 to 30 BCE. "Under the early Ptolemies, the culture was exclusively Greek. Greek was the language of the court, the army, and the administration. The Ptolemies founded the university, the museum, and the library at Alexandria and built the lighthouse at Pharos."
No doubt there are those that would argue the Rosetta Stone is more Greek than Egyptian.
It was reported from Cairo on 13th May that " ... a network of giant catacombs carved out of stone was unearthed beneath a block of flats in Giza."
Dr. Gaballah Ali Gaballah, secretary general of the Supreme Antiquities Council, said in a statement, that the 17-metre long, two-metre high burial gallery runs under a number of adjacent buildings. According to Dr. Zahi Hawass, director of Giza monuments, the catacombs date back to ancient Roman times as indicated by distinctive pieces of pottery found at the site. He said the underground tombs were most likely used during early Islamic timesin view of the presence of glazed pottery."
According to a report by Amargi Hillier, the Great Pyramid is to be reopened on Thursday 3 June. Amargi's update is accompanied by some nice digital images of the Great Pyramid's interior. Other sites of interest will be opened to the public in June. These include the Sphinx Temple and the tombs of Seshenufer, Snefrukh'ee and Neferma'et -- high ranking officials during the Old Kingdom period. At the Egyptian Museum in Cairo a new exhibit, "Lost and Found" is due to open later this year. The exhibit features stolen objects that have been recovered following investigations by Egyptian and foreign police officers.