Egypt’s Menkaure pyramid renovation sparks online backlash

A video showing the renovation of Egypt’s Menkaure pyramid with granite blocks has caused outrage among social media users, who accused the authorities of damaging the ancient monument. The video, posted by the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, on Facebook, claimed that the project aimed to restore the pyramid’s original style, but many critics said that it was a distortion of history and a waste of money.

The Menkaure pyramid, which is the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza, was built around 2500 BC for the pharaoh Menkaure, the son of Khafre and the grandson of Cheops. The pyramid was originally covered with limestone and granite, but over the centuries, it lost some of its outer casing due to erosion and theft. The renovation project, which started in 2013, intends to reconstruct the granite layer on the base of the pyramid, using blocks that were found nearby or imported from Aswan.

According to Waziri, the project is based on scientific studies and archaeological evidence, and follows the international standards and guidelines for the conservation of cultural heritage. He said that the project aims to preserve the pyramid and to show its original appearance to the visitors. He also said that the project is funded by the Egyptian government and does not receive any foreign aid or donations.

A fierce criticism

However, the video, which showed workers placing and fixing the granite blocks on the pyramid, triggered a wave of criticism and mockery from social media users, who questioned the authenticity and the necessity of the project. Some of them compared the project to “straightening the Tower of Pisa” or “painting the Mona Lisa”, and said that it was a violation of the pyramid’s integrity and identity. Others said that the project was a waste of resources and a distraction from the real problems facing the country, such as poverty, corruption, and human rights violations.

Some experts and activists also expressed their disapproval and concern about the project, and called for its suspension and review. They said that the project lacked transparency and consultation, and that it could harm the pyramid’s structure and value. They also said that the project was a part of a larger scheme to exploit and commercialize the ancient monuments, and to erase their historical and cultural significance.

A wider debate

The controversy over the Menkaure pyramid renovation reflects a wider debate about the management and preservation of Egypt’s rich and diverse heritage, which spans thousands of years and various civilizations. In recent years, Egypt has witnessed several projects and initiatives that aim to promote and develop its heritage, such as the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the transfer of royal mummies, and the discovery of new archaeological sites. However, some of these projects have also faced criticism and controversy, such as the construction of a highway near the pyramids, the relocation of historical buildings, and the restoration of other monuments.

The debate also raises questions about the role and responsibility of the authorities, the experts, and the public in protecting and respecting the heritage, and the balance between conservation and development, and between authenticity and modernity. It also highlights the challenges and opportunities of preserving the heritage in the face of environmental, social, and economic changes, and the importance of raising awareness and appreciation of the heritage among the people.

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