Giza pyramid cladding project raises debate in Egypt

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People run during a rain at the Giza Pyramids scenic spot in Giza, Egypt, Jan. 31, 2024. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

The plan of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to clad the Pyramid of Menkaure, one of the famed three pyramids of Giza, with granite blocks raised debate in the country as some archeologists are concerned it would ruin the originality of the 4,500-year-old monument.

SCA Secretary General Mostafa Waziri posted a video on Jan. 25 at the pyramid announcing the project, which he referred to as the “Project of the Century” and “Egypt’s Gift to the World.”

Waziri said the three-stage project will be carried out over at least three years by an Egyptian-Japanese mission, noting that Menkaure is the only one among Egypt’s 124 pyramids whose outer cladding was made of granite and has lost its original granite casting over the past centuries.

Following the announcement, some archeologists and experts opposed the idea. On Wednesday, a group of Egyptian archeologists and restorers issued a statement, expressing their rejection of the cladding project of the pyramid of ancient Egyptian King Menkaure.

They also argued that the Japanese side of the project doesn’t have any history of pyramid restoration.

Khaled Gharib, professor of archeology at Cairo University, told Xinhua that “an antique is meant to be preserved not changed,” arguing the planned project could change the “identity” of the pyramid, and the funds should rather be spent on projects to develop the plateau of the three pyramids of Giza “to preserve our heritage.”

In his reply to criticism, Waziri said that the project will be studied first for one year and then an international committee of archeologists and experts will convene to decide whether it is feasible.

Waziri told Xinhua on Wednesday that “the one-year study will be fully financed by the Japanese side, and it will include photogrammetry, laser scanning, cadastral surveying, and descriptive documentation of all the ancient blocks surrounding the Pyramid of Menkaure,” stressing “reassembling the blocks as an outer cover of the pyramid is still uncertain.”

Xinhua News Agency

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