An official letter, signed by top officials and legal consultants in the ministry of state for antiquities affairs, call for the Egypt’s PM Essam Sharaf to appoint a minister of antiquities immediately.
Three weeks following Sharaf’s decision for antiquities to separate antiquities from the ministry of culture, leaving it an independent body among the cabinet echelon, the antiquities department is leaderless. To date the cabinet has not yet appointed a leader for the Antiquities Department, and at this point whether the title is ‘minister’ or ‘director’ seems to be of secondary importance to those working in the antiquities field in Egypt.
“No one is responsible for Egypt’s antiquities,” Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, director of the central administration for antiquities in Alexandria and Lower Egypt, told Ahram Online. He continued that this has led to the absence of security and administration. These have been halted as there is no leader to take decisions on antiquities or to continue working.
Abdel Maqsoud explained that the monthly meeting of the permanent committees for ancient Egyptian and Islamic monuments are at a halt. These committees are taking all required procedures to stop encroachment on archaeological sites as well as approving the new excavation requests submitted by Egyptian or foreign expeditions. The administration board is on hiatus as well as the committee of exhibitions abroad. Now, explained Abdel Maqsoud, the antiquities department cannot issue any ministerial decision for the return of any archaeological exhibition abroad or its transportation to another country. There isn’t even an official escort.
“To spruce up the work we need a leader for antiquities,” asserts Abdel Maqsoud, relating that an official letter signed by him along with other top officials in the ministry of antiquities and its legal consultants was sent to PM Sharaf to press for definition of antiquities section, whether as a ministry or authority, as well for the appointment of a new leader.