Relocation of Ptolemaic burial chamber from Sohag to New Administrative Capital faces heavy criticism

Nada Deyaa’
4 Min Read

The Ministry of Antiquities’ decision to relocate the well-preserved Ptolemaic burial chamber stirred a wave of controversy. The tomb, discovered earlier this year, is scheduled to be relocated from Al-Dayabat archaeological site in Sohag governorate to the New Administrative Capital’s museum.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities announced on Monday that the permanent committee for Ancient Egyptian Antiquities approved the decision to relocate the tomb. The statement added that the ministry already cut the walls of the burial chamber into pieces, in preparation to move them from Sohag to the new museum.

Moustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of Supreme Council of Antiquities stated in a press statement that the ministry approved the transfer of the well-conditioned tomb from the archaeological site located in Upper Egypt, to a new place in order to save it from being “in an extremely remote location, where it is [currently] isolated, can be subjected to ravage, or robbery.”

The burial chamber belongs to a nobleman called Toutou and his wife who was a musician for goddess Hathor. It was accidentally discovered in April, during a police raid on an illegal excavation site.

Egyptian archaeologist, Monica Hanna told Daily News Egypt that moving the tomb has nothing with archaeology, which is all about restoring the antiquities.

“Relocation of this tomb is a clear violation to the Venice Charter for the restoration of historical places; and what the ministry is doing is all about destroying this antiquity, instead of saving it,” Hanna said.

According to the Venice Charter’s article seven, which Egypt follows, “a monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by the national or international interest of paramount importance.”

Hanna explains that this is not the case of the burial chamber, especially that it is not far away from a populated area in Sohag.

In the press statements, Waziri added that the museum in which the tomb is to be relocated will attract a larger amount of tourists, than the ones the current location does.

“In the New Administrative Capital’s Museum, all of the important figures, and tourists from all around the world will have the chance to see the tomb, which will allow thousands if not millions of people to enjoy it,” he said

However, Hanna’s point of view, that the Ministry of Tourism is the entity responsible for promoting this tomb for tourists, especially that it is in good condition.

The tomb consists of two small rooms containing two limestone sarcophagi as well as a mummy that is still unidentified.

The extraordinary tomb was in good shape and the mummies were well-persevered, as the mission only needed to remove the layers of dirt to reveal the bright paintings covering the walls of the two-room tomb.

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