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Egypt's Dahshur ancient heritage under immediate threat
Dahshur archaeological site, home of the first ever complete pyramid, is being plundered by vandals and thieves
Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 13 Jan 2013
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the black pyamid zone

A lack of security continues to negatively impact on Egypt’s archaeological sites. A few months ago, Ezbet Kheralla, in Old Cairo, home of early Islamic monuments, was subject to damage by neighbouring residents. Today is the turn of Dahshur.

Inhabitants of Ezbet Dahshur invaded the archaeological zone adjacent to the Black Pyramid of King Amenemhat III with bulldozers and guns. They put their hands on the land and start digging a private cemetery on top of artefacts buried in sand. The area was a cemetery for ancient Egyptian nobles; a German excavation mission unearthed several funerary objects there.

Guards at the site confronted the invaders but their attempts to repell them failed due to lack of arms.

Nasser Ramadan, director general of Dahshur archaeological site, told Ahram Online that he and his team reported the incident to the police but they failed to intervene. Even the minister of state for antiquities failed to take any steps to stop the encroachment.

Ramadan added that Dahshur was subject to thugs and vandals since the January 25 Revolution due to a lack of security, but it was never like this before.

People also dig the sand in search of artefacts, which are sold on the black market, he said.

“Our heritage is in danger and nobody is rescuing it,” Ramadan pointed out, calling on all concerned authorities to move to save and protect Egypt’s ancient heritage.

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim expressed regret that the Tourism and Antiquities Police has insufficient forces to remove any encroachments on archaeological sites. What complicates the situation is that the invaders are armed.

"We will study a new mechanism to compel people not to encroach upon the archaeological area," he said.

Dahshur is a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile almost 40 kilometres south of Cairo. It is known for its several pyramids, two of which belong to King Senefru, the founder of the 4th Dynasty and father of King Khufu, along with other pyramids and tombs of the Middle Kingdom, including the Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III and the White Pyramid of Amenemhat II.

It also has the 600 feddan wide lake of King Farouk which is filled in September, attracting different species of birds from all over the world.





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Gerald Rik
15-01-2013 10:09am
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security of ancinet heritage
What is different now? I'm traveling to your wonderful country for 10 years.Its really my second homeland.Two years ago, which monument or digging field you visit, was guarded by people with kalashs or other automatic rifles.Why, this guards of Dahshus has to try to talk to this thugs. In a lot of cases, the Egyptian authority has take the blame. Working on fields of interests are stopped. So the local people has no means of income. When there is work, there are a lot of people guarding the place and ofcourse there work. To think of *ancient heritage* , means to take the management role. A lot of income will be generated in time. Giving rule in the country will bring *tourism* to the old or better level. Think of Zahi Hawass, this was the man to do it. Thanks, I wish all Egyptian people, all luck and happiness. Gerald Rik
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Cláudio
15-01-2013 01:50am
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Won't anybody take a stance?
Unfortunately this is a kind of thing that has been turning very common, the world-wide cultural estates when are not being invaded by thieves or vandals, are being left aside by the governmet's leaders... But indeed in Egypt it seems to be a harder and complex situation because they have to deal with gunmen!
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Kevin
14-01-2013 06:14pm
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That is because...
“Our heritage is in danger and nobody is rescuing it,” because only a small handful of Egyptians care about Egypt's ancient history. I'm guessing that 0.5% of the population actually cares.
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neil
14-01-2013 01:03pm
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solution
you'll recall, that the Egypt Constitution I wrote, included a 'President's own law enforcement' corps, that enforces requests from 'independent offices', mostly for 'clean government', but also included the Antiquities.
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Britta e Va
14-01-2013 03:07am
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again
unbelievable. what is egypt going to do?
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Aladdin, egypt
14-01-2013 01:32am
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Cutting our Own throat
It is out rageous to see happening. We became backward nation who is controlled by backward people. thanks AO.
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Guest
14-01-2013 01:13am
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Where is the outcry???
The country’s heritage is being destroyed, irretrievably lost while the formidable government celebrates its “Renaissance Project”. Beware, that is only the beginning! The beginning of the end… Besides, all excavations should be stopped until security is restored.
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HAIM RONEN
14-01-2013 12:59am
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HAIM RONEN
IT IS A PITY THAT POLICE AND OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES ARE UNABLE TO INTERVENE IN THIS FIELD.WHAT A LACK OF FORESIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE
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