Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Showman and the Archaeologist
The recent presentation by Caroline Simpson of the state of archaeology in Egypt has taken back a number of people though many realized the fate of the Qurna village was sealed a number of years ago but there was, however, a true belief that at least a few of the most historic buildings would stay, not to be and in came the bulldozers.
Some are pleased by the loss as the village did represent itself as a den of thieves that has supplied museums around the world with huge quantities of antiquities though larger than this all villages contain the good the bad and the ugly. Over the decades Egyptian laws have changed making the traditional work of the Qurnawi searching for artifacts to sell harder.
As laws played their part the number of quality artifacts coming from the tombs of the nobles diminished, though some gold jewelry was found in recent years. This is the exception no longer the rule and the life's work of the Qurnawi had to change now that the resource has dwindled and the opportunity to sell antiquities forbidden.
The village may have in some minds been a leftover remnant of Egypt's colonial period and this may have been ultimately what sealed Qurna's fate.
The avenue of sphinxes would be a joke if it was not so historically tragic and again the bulldozers these being the archaeological practices of Dr. Zahi Hawass and his Minister Farouk Hosni. The rubble that represents the remains of the avenue is perhaps a fitting find for Egypt's Ministry of Culture and its Supreme Council of Antiquities who are trying to recreate the ancient history of the site.
In the end the concern that a decade or so from know when Minister Hosni and Dr. Hawass have finished their duties to the Egyptian state that many archaeological sites including the avenue may be irretrievably ruined by their actions. Certainly, that decade has passed for Qurna!
Caroline Simpson's presentation