Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts

Thursday, August 23, 2018

News: White Desert National Park Becomes Egypt’s First Park to Join UNESCO World Heritage List

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) regional office in Cairo said on Saturday that the White Desert National Park in the New Valley governorate would become the first Egyptian geological park to join UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The White Desert became a natural park in 2002, with a total size of around 3010 Km. The park is located 570 km away from south-west of Cairo and 45 km away from the Farafra Oasis.

Professor of Geology at faculty of science in Alexandria University Manal Fawzi stated that the national park was selected along with two tourist sites from Egypt, with Lebanon and Kuwait also submitting requests.

The credential papers are to be submitted to UNESCO in October of this year.

The park contains rare caves, remains of old mummies and carved inscriptions, sand dunes, geological compositions of limestone rocks, rare plants and animals such as the Rhim gazelle, Fennec fox, and Barbary sheep.

Director of the Regional Authority for activation of tourism in the New Valley governorate Khaled Hassan said that Trip Advisor website, specialized at Tourism and Travel affairs, selected the park on top of the best 20 tourist sites worldwide, urging the government to move domestic airplanes from the park to Luxor and Hurghada to increase tourism.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Obituary: William Kelly Simpson

The renowned American Egyptologist and lover of Egypt professor William Kelly Simpson passed away recently at the age of 89. Simpson was a great friend and lover of Egypt. He spent his whole life and distinguished career in the service of Egypt and its monuments, especially those of ancient times.

Simpson was a professor of Egyptology emeritus at Yale University in the US. He was born in New York City and received his BA in 1947, MA in 1948, and PhD in 1954 from Yale University. He was one of the most important public figures at Yale University later in his career.

He first worked in the Egyptian Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Then he obtained a Fulbright fellowship to Egypt and a research fellowship at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. In 1958, he was promoted to professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Yale University. He also served for around 20 years as curator of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

While in Boston, he increased the museum’s collections tremendously, reinstalled the galleries, and launched excavations and documentation at several sites in Egypt, principally the Giza Pyramids area and in Sudan. He also taught at several US universities, including as the Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations and the University of Pennsylvania. He also lectured at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton, the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. In terms of fieldwork, Simpson was the director of the well-known Pennsylvania-Yale Expedition to Egypt. He also participated in the UNESCO campaign to rescue the Nubia monuments in Egypt and the Sudan in the 1960s. He was the co-director of very important excavations at Abydos in Upper Egypt and epigraphic missions in the Giza Pyramids area.

He was the author of many books and articles on Egyptian art, archaeology and literature. He co-authored a book on the history of the Ancient Near East and also co-authored, with other scholars, one of the best-known anthologies of ancient Egyptian literature. He was elected to three terms as president of the International Association of Egyptologists and served as president and later chairman of the Board of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, as vice-chairman of the Board of the American University in Cairo, and as trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Research Centre in Egypt.

In 1965, Simpson was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for the humanities in Near Eastern Studies. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Research Centre in Cairo on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1998. He also received the Award for Distinguished Service from the American University in Cairo and the Medal of Honour for Distinguished Service to Egyptology and Egypt from Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s minister of culture at the time, and the Organising Committee of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo in 2000.

In 2001, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the American University in Cairo. In 2003, he was awarded the Augustus Graham Medal by the Brooklyn Museum in the US for services to Egyptology and the museum. He was elected to membership of the American Oriental Society, the American Philosophical Society, and the German and Austrian Archaeological Institutes.

I met professor Simpson several times at the Giza Pyramids area and during the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo in 2000. He served the monuments of Egypt, especially the Giza Pyramids and the archaeological remains in Nubia, with unstinting passion, and he also helped many Egyptians to study Egyptology in the US. He was an unfailingly modest and helpful person, as well as an authority on ancient art, archaeology and literature. He served as a major channel between Egypt and the US to the benefit of the two nations and the archaeological and cultural ties between the two countries.

Later this year, Yale University will commemorate the memory of this distinguished person and scholar, and Egypt should do the same for the country’s great friend, professor William Kelly Simpson. Professor Simpson will be very greatly missed, but his multifaceted legacy at all levels between Egypt and the US and among many Egyptians and Americans will last forever.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

News, Taba: Egypt's Antiquities Minister Seeks to Smooth Pharaoh Island's Entry to UNESCO World Heritage List

Khaled El-Enany is supervising inter-ministry efforts to meet the World Heritage Committee's deadline of February 2018, says senior antiquities official. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany has met with representatives of various other ministries and departments in order to facilitate the addition of Pharaoh Island in Taba to the UNESCO World Heritage list, a senior antiquities official told Ahram Online.

The ministry of antiquities is preparing the final archaeological file needed to register the site with UNESCO, with a February 2018 deadline for submission to the World Heritage Committee (WHC). The file is being compiled in cooperation with the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, tourism, international cooperation, defence and environment, as well as Homeland Security.

According to Ahmed Ebeid, Supervisor General of the Technical Office at the antiquities ministry, El-Enany meet with representatives of the other ministries and departments in order to resolve obstacles that arose in compiling the preliminary file, which was submitted in October. The high-level meeting also reviewed the WHC's recommendations relating to the site in South Sinai, which incorporates a historic fortress.

Yasmin El-Shazly, general supervisor of the antiquity ministry's International Organizations Department, told Ahram Online that before the final file can be submitted, the ministry must develop the island's visitor centre, provide more facilities and services, and ensure safe access roads.

She said that the minister has already created an action plan to develop the site in a way that reflects its historic and environmental value. “When Egypt succeeds in registering Pharaoh Island on the Word Heritage List, this will be Egypt’s first site to be registered since 2002,” El-Shazly said.

Pharaoh Island, located some 250 metres from the shore of Taba in South Sinai, includes of a fortress built by the Ayyubid prince Salaheddin to protect the Islamic empire from the Crusades. It was the second of several such fortresses built in Egypt by Salaheddin.

Built in 1171 AD, the citadel is strategically located on Pharaoh Island on a steep, difficult-to-climb hill high above sea level – and with a beautiful, blue sea view. The citadel played an important role in protecting the Sinai Peninsula from invasion during the Crusades.

It was capable of stand-alone defense in case of siege, with towers and defensive walls part of the citadel’s strategy. Water tanks built into the rock provided protection and sustenance. Archaeologists have also identified a bakery, mill and bathroom, as well as a furnace for producing weapons, a meeting room and accommodation for soldiers.

Pharaoh Island attracts all types of tourism, including eco-tourism, cultural visits and safaris. With beautiful views of the warm, Red Sea, it also boasts untouched coral reefs. Tours visit both the citadel and the neighbouring Valley Taiwibh, which has ancient Egyptian inscriptions of the early Egyptians who lived in Sinai, as well as inscriptions from Arab Nabataeans of the second century BC.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Short Story: Unveiling A Pharaoh’s Torso

The discovery of the torso of an ancient Egyptian colossus stirs a debate on the real identity and the manner in which it was retrieved. Written By/ Nevine El Aref.

International attention this week turned to Matariya, a slum area of Ain Shams. The reason:  the removal of a seven-tonne quartzite torso, part of a colossal statue which was pulled out of a muddy pit. Hundreds of local and foreign journalists, TV reporters, government officials and foreign ambassadors to Egypt gathered in the gardens of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Friday to admire the newly discovered Matariya colossus.

During the event, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced that the colossus probably represented the 26thDynasty pharaoh Psammetick I and not Ramses II as had previously been thought. “There is a strong possibility that the colossus is of Psammetick I,” El-Enany told reporters, adding that there was a small possibility that the statue had originally been made for Ramses II but reused by Psammetick.

“Further studies of the hieroglyphics on the back of the torso will reveal more,” El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that “if the statue was originally carved for Psammetick I it would be very important as it would show how ancient Egyptian artisans had succeeded in revitalising sculpture in the Late Period.” “It would also be the largest colossus of the Late Period ever found in Egypt,” he said. The colossus is carved in quartzite and originally measured about nine metres tall. The two fragments of the colossus are now at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square for restoration and temporary exhibition until they are transported to the Grand Egyptian Museum where they will be placed on show.

 Last week morning Souq Al-Khamis Al-Gadid, which neighbours the Matariya obelisk site, was a hive of activity as Egyptian and German archaeologists prepared to raise the newly discovered torso out of the pit where it has rested for thousands of years, many of them spent submerged in ground water. The torso was fastened with padded ropes attached to a hook lift crane. Beside the pit Upper Egyptian workers from Qift prepared a mat of sand for the torso.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany was present, alongside members of parliament, ministry officials and Moushira Khattab, Egypt’s candidate for the post of UNESCO director-general. Hundreds of Egyptian and foreign journalists, photographers and TV cameras were positioned behind the pit. Residents of Souq Al-Khamis were hanging out of their windows, the better to catch a glimpse of the scene. Finally the gigantic ancient Egyptian royal torso emerged.

Local residents clapped and whistled as restorers dressed in white gowns, gloves and helmets approached the 3,000-year-old statue. “It is in a very good condition,” said Eissa Zidan, head of the Restoration Department at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). There were no scratches or other damage and the statue, he added, was skillfully carved. The lifting of the part of the colossus’ head, however, provoked controversy, leading the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) to begin an investigation into the manner in which the fragment of the colossus had been raised.

The controversy was fuelled by some Egyptologists and concerned citizens taking to social media after they were shocked by images of the statue being lifted with a backhoe. Rumours soon spread that use of the heavy mechanical digger had broken the statue.

Criticism of the ministry grew as photographs were published showing part of the colossus’ head wrapped in a blanket emblazoned with the cartoon character Spiderman, and of children playing unsupervised next to the statue and taking selfies with it. “The Ministry of Antiquities raised the sections of the statue with great success,” El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“The first part of the statue was not broken during removal. It was found in pieces,” said El-Enany. Unfortunately, the same applies to many Matariya monuments. The ancient city of Heliopolis, which is buried beneath the site, was destroyed in antiquity and subsequently used as a quarry, furnishing building materials for monuments in Alexandria and in Cairo. El-Enany was unhappy, however, with photographs “showing children playing beside the first part of the statue which was left on site without any supervision”. This was the reason, he told the Weekly, that he had ordered an administrative investigation.

“We accept any positive criticism,” El-Enany added before calling on Egyptians to work hard to present a positive image of the country in order to promote tourism.  “Unearthing the torso was not an easy task, the team was working in a very difficult condition,” Zidan told the Weekly. The colossus was embedded on its side in the muddy pit and within 30 minutes of the surrounding ground water being pumped out it had returned to depths of three metres. “We tried to lift the torso dozens of times before we succeeded,” he said... READ MORE.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

News, Cairo: UNESCO Director General Visits Cairo's Newly Restored Museum of Islamic Art

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Tuesday evening, to tour the newly restored and re-opened facility. Ahram Online.

Accompanied by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, Bokova extended her 45-minute planned tour to 90 minutes to see the work which went into restoring the museum, which was badly damaged by a car bomb explosion in 2014 that targetted the adjacent Cairo Governorate Police Security Directorate.

El-Enany said that Bokova’s visit to Egypt and the MIA serves as a message to the world that it's time to visit Egypt, which he said has stood firm in the fight against terrorism. “The reopening of MIA embodies Egypt’s success in opposing terrorism and violence,” the minister said.

Bokova described the restoration work as “great” and said it "succeeded in returning the MIA to its original allure." “The work also shows dedicated international cooperation to rescue one of Egypt’s distinguished monuments,” Bokova added.

UNESCO, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Switzerland as well as other international museums, institutes and NGOs contributed to the museum's restoration.

“The MIA is an emblem of Islam and its contributions to history, culture, science, art and medicine,” Bokova said. Bokova gifted the MIA library with a series of seven books about the history of Islam and its historical contributions. 

The series, published in English, was compiled by UNESCO over the last 40 years. Bokova and El-Enany are set to open Wednesday evening the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...