Sunday, March 15, 2009

Keeping the Great Sphinx’s Paws Dry (Zahi Hawass)

Includes diagrams, photographs and a map.

Perhaps the single greatest threat to the preservation of Egypt’s monuments is the rising level of underground water throughout the country. Runoff from sewage and agriculture, along with overall environmental changes, is resulting in the stone of temples and tombs that were dry most of the year in ancient times becoming saturated with water seeping up from below.

This weakens the architecture, and damages wall decorations. Rising groundwater is a problem faced not only by pharaonic monuments, but by Greco-Roman, Coptic, and Islamic period structures as well. Under my direction, the Supreme Council of Antiquities is working to reduce the groundwater level around antiquities sites throughout Egypt. We have completed a USAID-funded effort to de-water Karnak and Luxor temples, and work is underway in many other places. One of our greatest recent successes has been the development of a system to prevent the Great Sphinx at Giza from getting its paws wet!

See the above page for more.

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