Deterioration of archeological sites deplored

Daily Star Egypt Staff
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Archeologists and officials meeting in Cairo Wednesday deployed the deterioration of the country s ancient sites, which they attributed both to government agencies and to private individuals. The assault, they said, runs from illegal construction activities to farming. Zahi Hawass, director general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, said there were 6,000 such cases in 2003 but gave no more recent figures. The governor of Cairo, Abdul Azim Wazir, said certain government agencies degrade archeological sites … As happened with the higher education ministry and (Cairo s) Taz Palace, which it has turned into a depot for books and old desks. For his part, Hawas said as many of 90 percent of the caretakers of sites allow improper activities in exchange for bribes. In another example, he said residents of the village of Gourna have built mosques atop an archeological site to stop us from tearing down the village and relocating them. Hawass said part of the problem is that the current law does not allow the antiquities council to intervene in matters involving buildings under the aegis of the ministry for religious endowments, or waqf. However, he said a bill drafted by the ministry of culture would amend the current law, adding stiffer penalties of up to life in prison for offenses and allowing sites less than 100 years old to be protected. The conference of local experts is due to end on Thursday. AFP

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