CAIRO: Egypt should have entered the New Seven World Wonders contest by nominating one or two of its other miracle monuments instead of opting out of the competition altogether, said a leading Egyptian archaeologist.
Speaking exclusively to Daily News Egypt about the issue, Abdel Halim Nur El Din, professor of Egyptology at Cairo University and former director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stressed that it was wrong for the archaeological officials to have bowed out of the competition on the pretext that the Pyramids of Egypt were uncontestable.
“This was an international event and all countries worldwide had vied to participate in it and had nominated one of their monuments. Do you think the officials of big countries like China, India, Jordan, Italy, Spain and others would have pressed ahead with the participation procedures had they suspected any lack of seriousness on the part of its organizers, said Nur El-Din.
The results of the contest, which was run by a former Unesco archaeological expert, besides its chief organizers, indicated that the new wonders were not selected at random.
“Egypt could have nominated either the Temple of Abu Simbel or the Sphinx for the competition instead of urging everyone to boycott it. This is a big loss, which is definitely the result of mismanaging the event. By the time we came to realize the importance of the competition it was too late, Nur El-Din commented.
“We simply can’t ignore any international event, be it a film or song festival or any other cultural function. We should participate and always try to make our presence felt, urged the top archaeologist.
When asked about the introduction of DNA to archaeological research, he pointed out that now archaeology has to be aided by all types of technology.
“DNA is only one kind of technology needed to boost the study of archaeology. I have been particularly interested in the DNA tests as a means of establishing a link between two related mummies. This was the case with Hatshepsut and her mother Ahmos Nefertari, a comparison that was an important part of the research which ended in identifying the mummy of Queen Hatsheptsut.
“This technology, however, can’t be reliable in giving watertight results, but it is a significant step towards achieving more discoveries.
“In the example of Hatshepsut, the issue of the tooth found in one the boxes belonging to the queen was instrumental in articulating that finding. But I would prefer to limit the use of DNA to comparison and contrast, added Nur El-Din.
“When used to that effect, it is likely to help experts document history and correct historical errors, he noted.
Going back to the subject of technology, Nur El-Din explained that the study of archaeology will have to rely on several sorts of technology including genetics, documentation, environment, restoration and radiation among others.
“In the new archaeology college that will be set up as part of Beni Sueif University, there will be a new department called archaeological technology which will be devoted to the application of modern technology to the science, he said.
Nur El-Din has been approached time and again to air his opinion about the link between the Arabic language and hieroglyphics, as some claim that the etymological roots of Arabic are hieroglyphic.
“Some Arabic words we use today do definitely have hieroglyphic roots but we can’t say that the Arabic etymology can be traced to the ancient Egyptian language. There is no scientific evidence to support that statement. Unless serious research is undertaken to prove otherwise, we can’t always link Arabic with hieroglyphics.
Nur El-Din, who has been a professor of Egyptology for the past four decades, hopes that the study of archaeology will develop to cover more specialties. “We also hope that the new generations of researchers will provide more references on Egyptology in Arabic. We do have some, but effort is needed to fill this gap.
The leading expert is also inviting all Egyptians to explore the unknown monuments of Egypt. “Generally the public’s awareness about Egyptian antiquities is regrettably limited to the Egyptian Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, Saqarra and few other well-known sites.
“But the majority continues to hide in the realms of obscurity. People know little or nothing about important museums and sites located in other provinces in Upper Egypt and the north.
Nur El-Din has compiled a list of them in the hope that one day they will garner equal attention.