Egypt Stirs Up Heat Over Plans To Restore Pyramid With Granite
By Mikelle Leow, 01 Feb 2024
Photo 33945391 © Donyanedomam | Dreamstime.com
Egyptians are riddled by recent refurbishment efforts on the Menkaure Pyramid, one of the iconic structures at the Giza plateau.
The “project of the century,” as termed by Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, will see the restoration of the pyramid’s ancient granite casing, a significant feature that time had eroded. A Facebook video revealing workers meticulously placing granite slabs at the pyramid's base has, however, ignited widespread controversy among conservationists, Egyptologists, and the general public.
This renovation plan seeks to revive the pyramid’s lost grandeur by adding new granite blocks to its base, intending to mirror its original façade. The Menkaure Pyramid, a neighbor to the Sphinx and its larger counterparts, Khafre and Cheops, had historically boasted a granite exterior, now partially stripped by the ages.
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Branded by the official as “Egypt’s gift to the world in the 21st century,” the rejuvenation is expected to span three years and is a collaborative effort between Egypt and Japan.
Unfortunately, the initiative has been met with skepticism and criticism from various quarters.
Monica Hanna, a prominent Egyptologist, has labeled the renovation efforts as “absurd,” stressing that such projects defy international renovation principles, which typically discourage altering the original state of historical monuments. Critics fear the overhaul could deviate from these established norms and jeopardize the pyramid’s integrity.
The effort has additionally drawn stark comparisons to “straightening the Tower of Pisa.”
Outraged members of the public have taken to the video’s comments to snarkily suggest wallpapering the structure.
This controversy comes at a time when Egypt’s historical preservation practices are under increased scrutiny. With tourism being a vital component of its economy, largely thanks to its rich ancient heritage, recent developments in Cairo’s historical district and controversial repair decisions in Alexandria have propelled civil society into action, focusing on urban planning and heritage conservation.
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