Although the development works in the Avenue of the Sphinxes on Luxor’s east bank is on hold due to lack of funds, it will be officially opened in October, according to original schedule.
“This is the only way to save such an avenue from further encroachment,” Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told Ahram Online.
He explained that when the development works were put on hold, Luxor’s inhabitants trespassed in the area surrounding the avenue, which threatened the newly discovered antiquities there.
Archaeologists have unearthed a number of Roman buildings and workshops used for the manufacture of clay pots and statues, as well as several reliefs. One of the reliefs bears the cartouche of the famous Queen Cleopatra VII (51-30 BC).
When the avenue is opened to visitors, says Abdel Maqsoud, all encroachments will stop.
To help resume the development work at the avenue, which has already cost LE100 Million, the Ministry of Tourism has offered the SCA LE3 Million.
The 2,700-metre-long Avenue of the Sphinxes was built during the reign of Pharaoh Nectanebo I of the 30th Dynasty. It replaced one built in the 18th Dynasty, by Queen Hatshepsut (1502-1482 BC), as she recorded on the walls of her red chapel in Karnak Temple. According to this record Hatshepsut built six chapels dedicated to the god Amun-Re on the route of the avenue during her reign, which emphasises that it was long a place of religious significance.
Sadly, however, over the span of history the avenue was lost and subjected to destruction. Some of its sphinxes were destroyed, while those sections of the avenue that were distant from both temples were covered with sand and buried under random housing.
Within the framework of the Ministry of Culture programme to restore ancient Egyptian monuments, with a view to developing the entire Luxor governorate into an open-air museum, a project was planned in 2007 to recover the lost elements of the avenue, restore the sphinxes and return the place to how it was in the days of ancient Egypt.