2018 'year of archaeological discoveries' for Egypt
Menna A. Farouk <https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/authors/menna-a-farouk.html>September 25, 2018
The Egyptian government has delivered on its promise that the year 2018 would be filled with notable
archaeological discoveries in Egypt. Now the government has to find a way to boost tourism based on
these archaeological treasures.
An Egyptian archaeological dig uncovered a "huge building" located in the Hid Al-Demerdash area of
Mit Rahina, Egypt, seen in an image uploaded Sept. 25, 2018.
Archaeologists, tourism experts and economists are upbeat about Egypt's newly announced
archaeological discoveries, expressing hope that the discoveries would give a push to the country's
Egyptian authorities announced the latest discovery on Sept. 25 of an ancient "massive building" —
thought to be part of a residential block from the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis — in Mit
Rahina, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Cairo.
Earlier in September, two key discoveries from the Pharaonic era were made in the southern city of
Aswan. On Sept. 22, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of a number of
in a Pharaonic tomb dating back 2,500 years ago. On Sept. 16, the Egyptian archaeological mission,
which was carrying out excavations at the Kom Ombo temple, unearthed a sandstone Sphinx
On Sept. 2, remains of an Egyptian village
back to the modern Stone Age were unearthed in the Nile Delta governorate of Dakahlia during
excavation works in the Tell el-Samara area.
Also discovered over the past few months is a rock tomb in Giza
a huge sandstone statue of King Ramses II and the oldest workshop for manufacturing pottery in Aswan
The discoveries were hardly a total surprise to Egyptian authorities. Last January,
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that the year 2018 would
be the year of archaeological discoveries
with the Ministry of Antiquities poised to unveil at least one archaeological discovery per month.
"These discoveries are considered a major achievement at the archaeological level. They also
demonstrate that Egypt is still full of monuments and ancient treasures that have not yet been
unearthed," Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of state for antiquities
affairs, told Al-Monitor.
Hawass said the government has excelled in raising global awareness about the discoveries and
promoting Egypt's tourism sector. "The current minister of antiquities is keen on holding news
conferences with international journalists to announce these discoveries. This gives a very good
message about Egypt to the world and encourages tourists interested in culture and archaeology to
come and visit Egypt," he said.
Taking good care of existing archaeological sites is just as important as announcing new ones,
Hawass said. "It is very crucial that the government works more on making the current tourist and
archaeological sites more appealing and making sure that they are properly presented to those
interested, especially foreign tourists. Many antiquities need to undergo restoration," he added.
Despite praising the new discoveries and highlighting the positive effects on tourism and the
national economy, some tourism experts have raised concerns that some of the unearthed statues might
end up in the attics of the Antiquities Ministry.
"The government has to make sure that these discovered antiquities are restored and displayed in
Egyptian museums or on site with the right protection. They should not be discovered and then
abandoned," Hossam Akawy, a Cairo-based tourism expert and member of the Egyptian Chamber of Tourism
Companies, told Al-Monitor.
Akawy said the Ministry of Antiquities has to set out a comprehensive strategy to finance the
restoration of the newly discovered antiquities as well as restore current archaeological sites and
monuments. "This way, new and old discoveries will be preserved and will be a booster for both the
country's tourism and economy," he said.
Egypt's tourism, which was severely affected by the 2011 uprising and terrorism in the early and
mid-2010s, has shown signs of improvement over the last few years. A government official told
Reuters in August that Egypt's tourism revenues increased
<http://af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFC6N1OB01I> by 77% to stand at around $4.8 billion in
the first half of this year, compared with the same period a year earlier. The official said the
number of tourists visiting Egypt in this period rose by 41% to reach five million.
"The archaeological discoveries can give an unprecedented push to Egypt's tourism sector because
Egypt mainly attracts tourists who are interested in Egypt's archaeology and civilization," Ahmed
el-Shami, an economist and a professor of feasibility studies at Ain Shams University, told
Al-Monitor. "If well-managed, these discoveries can be a golden goose for the government," Shami added.
Found in: Cultural heritage
Menna A. Farouk, a journalist and an editor at The Egyptian Gazette, writes about social, political
and cultural issues, including press freedom, immigration and religious reforms among other topics.
On Twitter: @ <https://twitter.com/MennaFarouk91>MennaFarouk91 <https://twitter.com/MennaFarouk91>
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