OPEN LETTER TO THE DIRECTOR OF “DIARIO SIGLO XXI”
November 08th, 2011
I refer to the column of opinion ‘La Linterna de Diógenes’ that, under the firm of Luis del Palacio has collected on Monday November 7th, 2011 an article that, with the title ‘La lenta agonía del proyecto amen-hotep huy en luxor’ states a series of affirmations of great seriousness in connection with the work that the team of the institution that I manage is developing in the necropolis of Luxor (Arab Republic of Egypt). In relation with the above mentioned matter I want to qualify, in my condition of person in charge of the Visir Amen-Hotep, Huy Project (TA n º-28-), for its publication, which I am confident you will consider it opportune, the following points: 1º That the information that Mr. Luis del Palacio has obtained on the Project to which he refers to in his article, is privileged and is subject to clause of confidentiality that was accepted and signed by himself when he was admitted to be part of the team that I manage, during the campaign of archaeological excavations of this year. 2º That the content of the data contributed by Mr. del Palacio as base and foundation of his article lacks the most minimum solvent technical support, and his own professional qualification does not authorize him, obviously, to venture an opinion with regard to structures and resistances in archaeological monuments. 3º That the last motivation of Mr. del Palacio to publish an article that simply tries to discredit the work that a group of Spaniards are developing in Egypt for already nine years, with an excellent result, by the way, is due undoubtedly to a series of unmentionable personal reasons that have led him to tarnish the noble exercise of the informative profession of which he arms himself with high-handedness, taking advantage of his condition and being untruthful in a serious way. 4º That one of the reasons, not the most conclusive one, due to which Mr. del Palacio was invited to abandon the team that I manage was, precisely, the formulation of threats to prejudice the viability of the project and to make an attempt on the professional and personal reputation of their Directors, myself and Mrs. Bedman González, threat that is being fulfilled in view of the article published in the digital newspaper “Siglo XXI”. 5º That the origin of all this deplorable situation has been produced in a context in which, in front of witnesses, and in evident and apparent situation of drunkenness or intoxication by consumption, Mr. del Palacio made in an extemporaneous, violent and threatening way, a series of demands related to his personal status inside the team, that could not be accepted by the direction of the project for unfeasible, being this, according to all the evidences, what has motivated the tone of his column, that tries to create an unwarranted alarm regarding the works that are being carry out since three years ago, in the same tomb, without having happened any incident as the ones that Mr. del Palacio so dramatically 'prophesies'. 6º That it should be known that the monument in which we are working is a tomb that has more than three thousand years of antiquity, that up to now remains standing, deeming that it would be a huge coincidence that it collapsed exactly now on our heads, even if this happened to give satisfaction to Mr. del Palacio in his puerile idea of using a solvent and reputable media as it is the “Diario SIGLO XXI” to give way out to his 'tantrum' because his unacceptable pretensions, bordering on the coercion to obtain personal benefits that I cannot detail in writing, have not been materialized. 7º That it should be known that technicians of ample reliability, who guarantee the security in the development of the works inside of the tomb, are integrated in our team, and that all what it has to be done is planned as a result of the detailed studies carried out, which have been opportunely submitted to the Egyptian authorities in order to obtain the corresponding and mandatory work permits in said monument.
Francisco J. Martín Valentín
DirectorVisir Amen-Hotep Huy Project (TA nº -28-)
La lenta agonía del proyecto amen-hotep huy en luxor
Two months ago I advised the Spanish Archaeological Mission "Amen Hotep Huy Vizier Project", which I was a member until last November 4, on the advisability of not undertaking the campaign this year. The main reason is the lack of budget, given that the ministry has directed with deep Angeles Gonzalez Sinde blunder, not considered appropriate to support work with public money that would put Spanish Egyptology between the dropouts of the world. The project did not because, this year with some government assistance and has barely started, in fits and starts, by well-meaning insistence obfuscation (obfuscation, but in the end) of its directors, Francisco Martin Valentin and Teresa Bedman.
In a rarefied socio-political climate so improperly called the "February Revolution", the excavation team joined their duties, hampered by administrative in mid-October. I had the opportunity to observe in situ the early development of this campaign, which will run until December 20, if there are no circumstances that interrupt, and I publicly confess my deep concern, especially now that I can as a former member freely give my opinion as they are not bound by any confidentiality.
I must say first that this lack of budget applies to the whole project, both labor itself (had to bounce a dozen of workers last week with a lot protests) and the security of the excavation: the tomb-temple, a hypostyle hall of almost 400 m 2, is in a state so precarious that the roof threatening to collapse, at least partially, throwing pieces that could easily injure or even crush those who are at that time indoors. The team, both technically and formed by local workers, spends many hours a day with the sword of Damocles over their heads, and rarely the metaphor is so well adjusted to reality. The directors, who, in my opinion, are so irresponsible as heroic have decided to go ahead against all odds, no helmets give or reinforced boots lead to digging into the grave or make efforts to consolidate hypogeum the flimsy structures. The reason is simply lack of funds, though no less reportable fact, given that what is being put at risk are lives, not ancient mummies. To address any possible accident, only has a kit with bandages, hydrogen peroxide and paracetamol. On the other hand, the chances of quickly evacuate an injured are minimal.
Both the Egyptian authorities and the Spanish (the latter at the consular or embassy level) are not sufficiently informed of these circumstances which pose a high risk. If something happens, God forbid, not only could be casualties, which would be more painful, but other archaeological concessions that Spain has in Egyptian soil would endanger its permanence, especially at a time when the Supreme Council of Antiquities Egypt has tightened the requirements for archaeological missions, especially following the dismissal of Hazi Hawass.
During the visit a Luxor few days ago Miguel Angel Oliver, director of Cuatro TV news, to make a report and interview many, including the head of the archaeological heritage, Mustafa Amin, and the director of the Temple of Luxor and Karnak, Ibrahim Soliman, there was no opportunity to explain the precarious state of the tomb, whose roof could collapse partially, to tell of how, at any time. A Oliver, stayed for three days in the Sycamore House itself, the seat of the Spanish mission, he hid this fact because we are specifically requested that we did not mention this. I now, as a former member of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Egypt and Amen-Hotep Project Huy, I release the "vow of silence" imposed by Professors Martin and Bedmar and expose human lives are endangered and the prestige and the credibility of our country in the world of Egyptian archeology. As a matter of personal ego, should never be assumed those risks and agencies should intervene speedily.