In December 2013, Egyptian Archaeologist and contributor Daily News Egypt contributor Dr Monica Hanna was named as the 2014 winner of the SAFE Beacon Award. Hanna has been active for many years, even before the 25 January revolution, trying to expose the consistent looting and destruction of archaeological sites and monuments. She has been instrumental in protecting many sites, including the Egyptian Museum during the 25 January Revolution, Abu Sir el-Malaq and Dahshour among others. She has also participated in the surveying the damage of the Museum of Islamic Art and the Egyptian National Library and Archives after the 24 January 2014 bombing of the Cairo Security Directorate.
After completing her Bachelor and Masters degrees at the American University in Cairo, Hanna travelled to Italy where she received her PhD from the University of Pisa. During the 2011 revolution she was in Berlin conducting post-doctoral studies and travelled back and forth between Egypt and Berlin. Shortly afterwards, she decided to relocate to Egypt full time so that she could fully dedicate herself to the protection of monuments and archaeological sites.
Reacting to the announcement of winning the award, Hanna said: “It means a lot for the cause. It will bring a lot of attention to the problems of looting. So, it is very good for the cause. It should shed light on the market because if there is enough attention paid to the market [for stolen antiquities], the looting will cease to happen. This award is not the result of only my own effort, but also of a great team and projects we have been working on for three years.”
The SAFE (Saving Antiquities For Everyone) organisation is a group of media professionals, academics and advertising experts whose aim is “to make the public aware of the vulnerability of ancient sites, monuments and artefacts, and to take action to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage,” according to the website. The SAFE Beacon award is given annually since 2004 in recognition of “outstanding achievement in raising public awareness about our endangered cultural heritage and the devastating consequences of the illicit antiquities trade,” according to their website.
SAFE is organising a series of events where people can meet Dr Monica Hanna, all taking part in New York. The first of the events will be on 10 April in The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium where attendees will be able to attend a lecture given by Dr Monica Hanna, entitled “Saving Ancient Egypt one tweet at a time: How social media is saving one of the world’s oldest civilizations”. The lecture is free, but attendees have to register beforehand to guarantee a place on the SAFE website.
There are other two fundraising events which are a dinner at Apiary also on 10 April and tours of the Metropolitan Museum on 11 and 12 April. More information can be found on the SAFE website.
“I will meet a lot of people who are interested in helping Egypt, so it will be a good chance to network and try to pool efforts and see what can be done to further help stop looting of antiquities and archaeological sites,” said Hanna on the upcoming events in New York.