Demonstrators in Egypt’s Upper Egyptian Sohag governorate have stepped up their ongoing protest against a local shortage of butane gas cylinders by blocking the railroad line between Aswan and Cairo and the entrance to the nearby Temple of Abydos.
Early on Monday, some 400 local residents of Balyana village converged on the temple, blocking its entrance and destroying a ticket kiosk. They held banners aloft saying they planned to stay put until the government had provided them with needed gas cylinders.
Village residents had complained all last week of a severe local shortage of butane, which has caused black-market prices for cylinders to skyrocket to LE50 apiece from their usual LE5.
In an attempt to protect the temple – a popular tourist destination – Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) officials have directed local police authorities to tighten security around the monument and all nearby archaeological sites. They have also reportedly asked the governor of Sohag to try to convince protesters to abandon their demonstration.
Built by 19th Dynasty King Seti I, the Great Temple of Abydos contains a long list in hieroglyphic writing of pharaohs from earlier dynasties. Known as the “Abydos Kings List,” it includes the names of numerous Egyptian pharaohs going all the way back to the First Dynasty.
The back of the temple contains an enigmatic structure, known as The “Osirion,” believed to have been connected with the worship of the god Osiris.