Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa issued a ministerial decree on 3 February to establish a scientific committee to assess the restoration project for the Menkaure pyramid on the Giza plateau.
The committee, led by renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass, consists of engineers and archaeologists from Egypt, the United States, the Czech Republic, and Germany specialising in ancient pyramids.
“The committee will review the proposed joint project between the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the mission of Waseda University in Japan, which has presented the architectural restoration project of Menkaure’s Pyramid at the Giza Plateau,” a ministerial Facebook statement explains.
After completing the review, the committee will prepare and present a report on its findings to the ministry, followed by a ministerial decision on whether the project is sound or not.
“The report will also encompass all the necessary procedures and steps to coordinate with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in this regard,” the statement adds.
During the review process, the SCA is responsible for providing the committee with any necessary data, information, and documents related to the project.
The committee’s formation comes in light of social media backlash over the project, raising questions about the protection of Egypt’s heritage sites.
Egyptologist Monica Hanna expressed concern that despite the Japanese partners’ cutting-edge technology, the project might lack the necessary archaeological expertise to delve into the remaining mysteries, like mortar composition and construction techniques.
‘Unless they are going to use original materials and methods used by ancient Egyptians, then this project will fail,’ one user commented in a post by SCA Secretary General Mostafa Waziry.
Waziry, one of the project’s biggest proponents, declared the initiative as essential for the durability and longevity of the pyramid – arguing that modern materials and methods are necessary to combat accelerated deterioration caused by environmental factors.
Climate change has led some experts to argue that the ancient Egyptian wonders could suffer greatly within the century due to extreme heat – including Luxor’s Valley of the Kings.
An international press conference, yet to be scheduled, will be held following the committee’s report to announce the ministry’s decision on the restoration project.
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