Sunday, March 27, 2011

Resistance to the recent UNESCO visit to Egypt

Ahram Online (Nevine El-Aref, 21st March)

A little bit out of date now, but interesting.

A UNESCO delegate is set to visit Egypt to help recuperate looted ancient artefacts post-revolution, but there is no Egyptian antiquities minister, and to boot the delegate faces scepticism of 'antiquities colonisation'.

With the absence of the relatively important role of minister of antiquities in Egypt due to a massive restructuring of ministerial positions post-revolution, archaeologists are wondering who will escort the UNESCO’s delegate that will visit Egypt’s archaeological sites Tuesday.

Some archaeologists are uneasy with the visit, which they consider as unexpected and in bad timing, one of whom is professor of Egyptology at Cairo University, Abdel Halim Noureddin. He confessed to Ahram Online that “I am wary of the UNESCO visit to Egypt. Why this delegate is coming now, during this transitional period is not clear. Could it be to inspect the Egyptian museum after the break-in? Or to collect information about Egypt’s archaeological sites that were susceptible to looting? Who invited the delegate to come to Egypt? Or by this visit is UNESCO making a statement that it is coming to protect Egypt’s antiquities?” Noureddin wonders.

He continued that if the delegate is coming to check up on the Egyptian museum that this is not its responsibility, but rather the task of the International Committee of Museums (ICOM). “We are keen on our heritage and we are totally able to protect our monuments and we don’t need curatorship from anyone,” asserted Noureddin.

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