LOOTING SITUATION IN EGYPT
CONTINUES TO ESCALATE
DESPITE beefed-up efforts to stop looting of Egyptian archaeological sites, the situation all up and down the Nile Valley is escalating rapidly, according to the country's leading newspaper.
Egyptian antiquities police and archaeologists managed to stop illegal construction at Al-Bordan archaeological site on Alexandria-Marsa Matrouh highway ... but only after the site was "completely destroyed" by looters and people building illegally on the site, said the report in Al-Ahram newspaper.
The site includes remains of Graeco-Roman fortresses, roads, temples and cemeteries.
The encroachment on the Al-Bordan archaeological site started last friday when a large truck invaded the site with a construction bulldozer, which crushed a cluster of authentic structures that date back to the Graeco-Roman era, according to director of Marina Al-Alamein Antiquities Khaled Abul-Magd.
Abul-Magd accused Yasser Khalil, owner of a contractor company, and truck driver Mohamed Abdel Sattar of violating and damaging the archaeological site. The tourism and antiquities police arrested both men, but they denied all charges. Both are in custody until the completion of investigations.
On Saturday, all encroachment had been removed, but the site "is almost completely destroyed", the newspaper reported.
Egypt has suffered from illegal urban and agricultural encroachment on archaeological sites ever since the breakdown of law and order after the ouster of President Hosny Mubarak.
In March, widespread looting of was reported on this blog, and our urgent news release succeeded in prompting Egyptian officials to sit down with archaeologists to seek a way to end the plundering.
Just 20 km away, in at the adjacent site of Amarna, villagers began cultivating the area around a collection of 18th-dynasty noblemen’s tombs at the ancient site of heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten's fabled city.
The Egyptian antiquities ministry ordered a halt to the encroachment and looting at both Amarna and Antinoopolis and stepped up security in the area, while tourism and antiquities police were deployed nearby.
Dahshur, 30 km north of Giza plateau, was ravished in January 2013 (photo above). Residents of the neighbouring Dahshur village proceeded to construct a collection of modern cemeteries before the Black Pyramid of King Amenhotep II.
However, Dahshur residents halted construction of the structures after the antiquities ministry offered to provide them with land far from the archaeological site on which to build a cemetery.