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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Egyptian archaeologists call for tougher security measures after 'sale of pyramid pieces'

Archaeologists and antiquities lovers are upset at the lack of security in the Giza Plateau, and the breaking off and sale of pieces of the pyramids

Ahram Online , Sunday 7 Feb 2016
Giza pyramids	(Reuters)
Giza pyramids (Reuters)
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In a video that went viral online, four people were shown breaking off and selling pieces of one of the Giza pyramid blocks, leaving archaeologists and antiquities lovers up in arms.

Privately owned Egyptian news site Dot Masr decided to investigate media reports that “pieces of the pyramid were being sold”, resulting in the video of the sale, the website said.

The editors of the website were able to “buy a piece of the pyramids for EGP 300” following an agreement with one of the men, who is now in police custody, to buy chunks of the pyramid in order to send to a friend abroad.

The video sparked outrage on social media, with many users calling on the antiquities and tourism ministries to “save the pyramids.”

Hussein Bassir, director of Giza Plateau, told Ahram Online that the incident happened in a remote area south of the Menkawre Pyramid, which is off the tourist track. Tourists normally visit areas around the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Khafre Pyramid and the Sphinx.

Security personnel, Bassir continued, are always available around the plateau, but could not be expected to be everywhere, as the plateau is vast and difficult to control.

"The blocks shown in the video are authentic, but have fallen from the pyramid complex across the span of time and have not been broken off by thieves," he said. 

"The criminals seen in the video were arrested and detained for four days on charges of vandalism, trading in antiquities, and fraud.

"The journalists shown in the video may also face charges of owning and trading in stolen antiquities," Bassir added, saying that their good intentions in reporting the incident is not sufficient to annul charges against them.  

"The pieces of the pyramids are still in their possession. If they had handed over the blocks to the police immediately after receiving them, their situation may have been different."

He went on saying that the immediate response of the tourism and antiquities police was a "major element in catching the criminals rapidly".

Salah Al-Hadi, coordinator of the Archaeologists' Syndicate, argues that security has to be tightened in all archaeological sites, especially in open air sites such as the Giza Plateau and Saqqara Necropolis.

He said that the mission of an archaeologist is on site, and not inside the ministry's offices.

"The ministry should put into effect judicial decisions, to stop encroachment on monuments. Penalties under the antiquities law have to be stiffened," Al-Hadi asserted.  

Archaeologist Mohamed Fawzi believes that poor security measures are behind what happened, as well as the encroachment on several archaeological sites.

"The low salaries of ministry employees led some of them to become careless in their work," he said.

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Aly Sadek - Toronto-Canada
08-02-2016 10:03pm
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Egypt...
.. Very well said.. Sam .. Tut.. 100% right..and it will take another 100 years to overcome that type of corrupted mindset..
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Sam Enslow
08-02-2016 09:01am
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Never accept responsibility
No one is ever responsible, always excuses. Some years ago some 19 people were charged (all but one found guilty) of shipping lorrys full of antiquities to Europe for sale. Poor salaries are not an excuse. If the job pays too little, find another job. Proper management, cost controls, and other steps can be taken to free funds for salaries and properly trained staffs. It used to be common for one traveler from this department to be accompanied by several ghosts who occupied rooms. The hotel would be forced to charge for additional rooms, the charge approved, and when paid a local administrated would collect the funds for the ghost rooms and send it to Cairo. Do these practices continue? They were open secrets. Egypt has so much, including its people, that could be developed if the parasite of corruption was eliminated. It is time to stop blaming those in the media and charging them with harming the image of Egypt. The acts, not the reporting, harm Egypt.
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Tut
07-02-2016 09:57pm
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The most valuable assets
We can disagree about the government, the economy, or democracy in Egypt. However no one can disagree that the Pyramids are the most valuable assets in Egypt, unless one is an Islamist nut. Therefore strict, competent, and honest security should be there 24/7 no buts and ifs about it. The government, the economy, and democracy could change or improve, but if the Pyramids are gone Egypt would seize to exist!
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