Sunday, 12 July 2009

Protecting the Valley of the Kings | - Zahi Hawass

Really great news from Dr Zahi Hawass

Protecting the Valley of the Kings | - 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."



Hi Jane it such a shame that the valley hasn't been protected untill now it seems to me that if you go with a tour company rather than on your own, tour companys concentrate on visiting certain tombs, I think that they rather then the loan traveler should be restricted, personnel i like to visit the tombs which have less visitors such as tomb of aye.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,
Do you know when these new conditions take effect? Should I as coming to the valley myself make reservation for morning, afternoon or evening? And if yes, where should I do this?
Best regards Niels

stewarth99 said...

The work going on in the Valley of the Kings is admirable. Unfortunately, because the moisture from our breath causes so much damage, it may be that the best thing to do is to create virtual tombs. At least that way we can all access such beauties as Nefertari's tomb.
Installing lights may be a step backwards. At least with the current limited visiting hours there is time for the moisture laden air to escape. Otherwise an air handling system needs to be installed to force air circulation.

Jane Akshar said...

Keep an eye on Zahi's website to get any updates as to when it will take affect.

I think with todays scanning techniques copies of the tombs are an excellent idea. I do think scholars should still be able to get into the originals.

Anonymous said...

Seems things are happening at the valley.Another idea that should be considered is a camera robot with
HD capability to explore the tombs
that way no co2 gases, and could be transmitted to the visitor centre.It would be disappointing to turn up at the valley to discover the tomb you want to visit is closed.Maybe even the tomb of Nefetari could be accomodated this way It is technically possible and with low
lux cameras not much light is required
These methods have been sucessful at other international sites.

Hi Jane how are things how`s Amira
getting on in the UK?