On August 17, Egypt’s Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr. Zahi Hawass and Dr. Samir Farag, head of the Luxor Supreme Council (LSC), marked the completion of several development projects at different archaeological sites on Luxor’s western and eastern banks.
Other ongoing projects they both oversee total a budget of Egyptian Pounds 127 million. These include the restoration of Abul Hagag El-Loxori Mosque, moving the entrance of Luxor temple, the development of the area around Deir el-Baheri Temple (Hatchepsut’s Temple), the restoration of Howard Carter’s rest house with a view to turning it into a museum, and the installation of a new lighting system in the Valley of the Kings.
The Abul Hagag Mosque was built in 1286 to commemorate the Sunni Sheikh Abul Hagag. The passage of time had taken its toll on the mosque’s walls and foundations. Cracks had spread all over its walls and water from the Mayda’a water fountain had leaked into its foundations. Restoration work, which lasted for 14 months and cost LE 13.4 million has now been carried out. It was to return the mosque to its original glory. The cracks have now been removed; the foundations consolidated, and the water fountain renovated. The mosque’s open court has been developed, and a fire alarm system has been installed. The mosque’s dome has been renovated as well, along with the Pharaonic columns re-used in 1286 to construct the mosque.
The entrance to Luxor Temple has been altered. This project cost LE 7.260 million and lasted 18 months. Furthermore, the area around Deir el-Baheri has been improved over the past 15 months at a cost of LE 9.850 million. The enhancement entailed the removal of all unlicensed vendors from around the temple who would encroach on the safe zone protecting the monument. The government also opened an official visitor’s center, a cafeteria, a bookstore and 52 bazaars as well as repaved all roads leading to the temple.
The Carter Rest-House, used as the residence of Howard Carter during his excavations at the Valley of the Kings in the early 1990’s, has been restored and developed into a museum displaying the tools and instruments used by Carter during his excavations. The project costs LE 1.121 million and lasted for four months. This will open in the future.
Finally, work has concluded with the installation of a new lighting system in the Valley of the Kings. This new system will be tested.
In a separate development, Hawass announced forming an archaeological committee composed of archaeologists from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and Egyptian universities. They are to meet next week to discuss the accuracy of a recent study claiming to pinpoint the exact date of construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The committee will discuss with Dr. Abdel Halim Noureddin, Professor of Ancient Egyptian Language at Cairo University, member of the committee previously formed by the Giza Governor, General Sayed Abdel Aziz, whose claim to fame was specifically dating the construction of the Great Pyramid – thus marking the date as national holiday.
Hawass said the committee will release a scientific report which will be submitted to the Permanent Committee of the SCA for approval. “Determining the exact day of building the Great Pyramid is of national pride and a very important scientific matter which must be accurately studied and discussed in order to reach the exact day,” said Hawass. He later sent a letter to the Giza governor asking him not to declare the 23rd of August as the National Giza Governorate Day, but the day the Great Pyramid was completed in ancient history.
(1.00 EGP = 0.180359 USD)