Really great news from Dr Zahi Hawass
Protecting the Valley of the Kings | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
"I always say that the Egyptian monuments will be completely destroyed in less than 100 years if tourism isn’t managed properly. Tourism is the number one threat to the Egyptian antiquities.
In Egypt we have started many important site management projects in order to protect the monuments, and I have published many articles about my ideas. When I became Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, we initiated site management projects at Abu Simbel, the Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan, Edfu, Kom Ombo, the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Temple in Luxor, and at Dendera. We are currently finishing site management projects at Giza and Saqqara, as well as working at Tell Basta, and San el-Hagar (Tanis), and this week we have completed our project at Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria.
In order to have a high quality site management program it is important to have a means of protecting the site, an educational introduction within a visitor’s centre, well-trained personnel, a programme for restoration and conservation, and, outside of the site, facilities for tourists, such as cafeterias, a bazaar, and clean bathrooms.
The Valley of the Kings is a special case. Here, tourists concentrate on visiting certain tombs – especially the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI, and Horemheb – while others are hardly visited at all, even though the valley contains sixty-three tombs in total. This means that some tombs need added protection, while others need to be closed completely in order to save the ancient paintings.
We are currently installing lighting in the Valley of the Kings so that people will be able to visit the tombs in the evening. This will help to protect the paintings because it allows us to spread the tourist visits out over the course of the day – they will need to make reservations for the morning, early afternoon or evening. This will allow the tombs to escape from the extra heat and moisture that builds up in them over the course of the day.
Three special tombs are so important and beautiful that they need to be carefully protected: the tombs of Tutankhamun, Nefertari and Seti I. The latter two are currently closed to the public to help preserve them. In order to allow visitors to Luxor to still see the paintings in these beautiful tombs, yet still keep them closed, we contacted Adam Lowe of Factum Arte. He is currently making detailed high-resolution copies of the tomb scenes using laser scanners. The images that these scanners create look almost exactly like the original paintings.
The team developed new scanners in order to make the best copies; one of them is called Seti. In the end, all of the paintings in the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari will have been scanned, as well as the burial chamber and sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. Missing fragments from these tombs, now held in foreign museums, will also be scanned and added to the overall reconstruction, giving as complete a picture of the tombs as possible. As the project continues Egyptians will be trained in the use of the equipment and techniques, meaning that the project also transfers important skills.
On November 4th of this year, I will be finishing converting Howard Carter’s rest house in Luxor into a museum with displays focusing on Carter’s great discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. There will also be a cafeteria for tourists to have lunch. A one-day workshop will be held, celebrating 86 years since the discovery of the tomb. Down the valley from the rest-house we will install replicas of the tombs of Nefertari, Seti I and Tutankhamun using the high-resolution scans so that, even if two of these tombs are closed, visitors will still be able to experience their beauty with the knowledge that the ancient paintings are being preserved."