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Earlier this year, archaeologists in Egypt located a previously unknown tomb which contained two human mummies — believed to be a woman and her young child — along with other artifacts, Ancient Origins reports:
“50 mummified animals including, falcons, cats and dozens of mummified mice. The tomb was built for a man named Tutu and his family. It is believed to date to an era defined as the early Ptolemaic period, which ended with the Roman conquest in 30 BC.”
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, had this to say when the tomb was located and uncovered:
“Beautiful, colorful tomb… made up of a central lobby [dived in two] and a burial room with two stone coffins.”
Now, however, the Ministry of Antiquities has decided the tomb should be moved to a tourist hub some 300 miles from where it happens to be located, leading many to suggest such an idea is arbitrary, unnecessary, and could well unleash the “curse of the pharaohs” if it’s moved:
According to The Sun, the tomb is already being cut into pieces for easier transport:
“The ministry has already started to cut the walls of the tomb to pieces so it will be in suitably sized transportable chunks. Offering reason for this move the ministry deem it a ‘necessary act to save the isolated burial chamber from being ‘subjected to ravage, or robbery.’
“The ministry finds itself caught between a ‘rock and a hard place’ and as they move this tomb, a faction of archaeologists aren’t happy and accuse the ministry of failing to preserve antiquities by taking them from where they were found.”
And it now appears that those who don’t want the tomb moved may have the law on their side, with archaeologist Monica Hanna commenting:
“Relocation of this tomb is a clear violation to the ‘Venice Charter’ for the restoration of historical places; and what the ministry is doing is all about destroying this antiquity, instead of saving it.”
What exactly is the Venice Charter? It was drawn up in 1964 by the International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments in Venice, and would seem to apply to the tomb being debated now in Egypt:
“The charter was drawn up to stop precisely this type of potentially destructive archaeology and it is very clear that moving a monument ‘cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it’ except when ‘it is justified by the national or international interest of paramount importance.'”
However, the Egyptian government refuses to relent, with Secretary-General Waziri suggesting that the find is indeed of great importance and should be shared with the rest of the nation and world:
“In the New Administrative Capital’s Museum, all of the important figures, and tourists from all around the world will have the chance to see the tomb, which will allow thousands if not millions of people to enjoy it. Whether this is ‘of ‘paramount importance’ or not, you can decide.”
As for the “curse of the pharaohs,” that’s certainly something that many consider to be very real and very frightening, especially in light of what happened when King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered and shown to the world over a century ago:
“While it is said to cause bad luck, illness or even death, the ‘mummies curse’ was associated with King Tutankhamun and the people who died after opening his tomb and somewhere over the last 60 years this was broadened and became the generic ‘curse of the pharaohs.’ The tomb being moved is neither associated with Tutankhamun or any other pharaoh, so those 50 mummified animals will not be squeaking and flapping in archaeologists’ bedrooms anytime soon.”
The much larger issue is what damage may be done to the tomb when it’s dismantled, shipped, and reassembled. Suppose part of it winds up damaged or disappears in transit. Then the world will have nothing but photographs and videos to prove it ever existed.
It would be comforting to think the Egyptian government knows best when it comes to such matters, but shouldn’t archaeologists have the final say in the matter?
Featured Image Via YouTube Screenshot