Arabul Hesn archaeological area, where the ancient Egyptian capital Heliopolis (known in ancient Egypt as the City of the Sun) is located, was set on fire last night. As usual, rumours took their toll with the media saying that the limestone gate of King Ramses IX was turned to black cinder.
Asking the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) whether the rumour was right or wrong got no response until Osama El-Shimi, director general of Cairo antiquities in the MSA, told Ahram Online that the grass around the Ramesside Temple was set on fire last night. The fire did not affect the temple or the Ramses IX gate. Regrettably, smoke from the fire blackened some parts of the gate and a section of the mud brick wall that once enclosed the temple.
El-Shimi assured out that the impact of fire was minimal but that an archaeological committee had been assigned to inspect the affected parts of the gate and suggest the most efficient method of restoring it to its original state.
Khaled Abul Ela, head of the Matariya archaeological site, said that when fire broke out on the grass surrounding the temple archaeologists called the fire service to extinguish it.
The Arabul Hesen archaeological site in Matareya is located northwest of the obelisk of Senusert I. Kings Ramses III, IV and IX all had a share in the extension of a temple that exists on the site. The site comprises pillars, gates and mud brick walls, but the most distinguished part is the gate of the temple of high priest Neb-Maat-Re who was also the son of King Ramses IX.
Damage to the site again highlights the lack of security and oversight that hit the country after the 2011 revolution, along with the decline of the tourism industry that decreased the budget of the MSA and its ability to restore and secure archaeological sites.