1706462786 Return the granite to the pyramid of Menkaure The project

Return the granite to the pyramid of Menkaure? The project sparks heated controversy in Egypt

This project will last three years, announced the head of mission responsible for the project.

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Published on January 28, 2024 5:21 p.m. Updated on January 28, 2024 5:41 p.m

Reading time: 2 minutesThe pyramid of Menkaure on the Giza Plateau (Egypt), December 16, 2005. (MICHEL GUNTHER / BIOSPHOTO / AFP)

The pyramid of Menkaure on the Giza Plateau (Egypt), December 16, 2005. (MICHEL GUNTHER / BIOSPHOTO / AFP)

For some it is “the project of the century”, for others it is “an absurdity”. A new plan to renovate the pyramid of Menkaure on the Giza Plateau is shaking up all of Egypt. In a video released on Friday, the head of Egypt's antiquities department, Mostafa Waziri, shows workers aligning granite blocks on the base of the building, the lowest of Giza's three pyramids.

When the pyramid of Menkaure was built, it was covered with granite, but over time it lost some of its covering. The current project aims to restore this granite layer to return the pyramid to its original appearance. This “renovation” will last “three years” and will be “a gift from Egypt to the world in the 21st century,” welcomes Mostafa Waziri, head of the Egyptian-Japanese mission in charge of the project, assuring that “it will make possible”. We can see for the first time the Pyramid of Menkaure as it was built by the ancient Egyptians.

Preserving Egypt's heritage, an eternal debate

But dozens of horrified commenters lost their temper on the video shared on social media. “That’s not possible!” answers the visibly outraged Egyptologist Monica Hanna on Facebook. “All that was left was to tile the pyramid of Menkaure! “When will we put an end to the absurdity in the management of Egypt’s heritage?” she writes again. “All international principles of restoration prohibit such interventions; all archaeologists must mobilize immediately.”

The question of preserving cultural heritage in Egypt – a country that relies on tourism for 10% of its GDP and is home to the Great Pyramid, the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that is still visible today – is often raised. subject of lively debate. The recent destruction of entire parts of historic Cairo has greatly mobilized a civil society that is almost banned from political activity and is now focusing its fight against the regime primarily in the areas of urban planning and cultural heritage.

The debate recently focused on a 15th-century mosque in the northern city of Alexandria, the Abu al-Abbas al-Morsi Mosque. The governorate just announced it is launching an investigation after a renovation contractor decided to repaint the ornate, sculptural and colorful ceilings of the largest mosque in Egypt's second-largest city in white.