The minister of antiquities visited several historic sites in Assiut on Saturday, allocating EGP 300,000 as a preliminary budget to start excavation work at Meir necropolis, and became the first minister to visit the ancient El-Muharraq monastery.
During an inspection tour of several archaeological sites in the governorate, the Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany gave the go-ahead to begin a comprehensive plan to restore the Meir tombs, located 12km west of El-Qussiya town, and to develop the site to be more tourist-friendly and provide more services to visitors.
The necropolis consists of a collection of 15 rock-hewn tombs, which were unearthed last century by British Egyptologist Aylward Blackman. Only nine are open to visitors.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the tombs date back to the Old and Middle Kingdoms, from the sixth to the twelfth Dynasties, and include tombs of priest and rulers of the fourteenth Nome, or regional division, of Egypt at that time.
He explains that the tombs contain unusual painted scenes, characterised by their naturalistic qualities. Many of them shows highly detailed scenes of daily life, including industry, cultivation and sports, with a distinct local style.
bird scene at meir
Among the most distinguished is the one belongs to Ni-Ankh-Hpepy who was the chancellor of sixth dynasty King Pepi I. The tomb is painted with scenes depicting offerings of cattle, birds, and food, as well as fishing scenes.
The tomb of Senbi, a nomarch (provincial governor) and overseer of priests during the reign of twelfth dynasty King Amenemhat I, has many offering, agricultural and manufacturing scenes.
El-Enany, Waziri and Bigol at Al-Muharraq Monastery
El-Enany also visited El-Muharraq monastery, noted for the important role it played during the visit of the holy family to Egypt. The monastery was the final place on their journey.
Waziri told Ahram Online that to commemorate El-Enany’s visit, as he is the first minister of antiquities to visit the monastery, the monastery’s abbot, Bishop Bigol, and the monastery’s board of directors, reproduced a replica of an icon depicting the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt, and offered it to the minister.
The visit included a tour around the monastery’s old and new churches and its fortress. The minister also met with Bishop Bigol to discuss several archaeological matters and to solve any problems. Waziri said that Bishop Bigol highlighted the successful cooperation between the ministry and the monastery.
El-Muharraq monastery was built on the Qosqam mount in the fourth century AD.
The monastery has three churches, the oldest of which is the Church of the Virgin, which was built on the site of a cave where the holy family spent six months and ten days during their flight to Egypt.
The replica of the Holy Family escapade to Egypt icon
El-Enany writes in the visiting book of the monastery