The ancient Egyptian obelisk today known as Cleopatra’s Needle has been standing in Central Park in New York City since 1880 or so, and over the past 130 years it has become severely weathered and eroded, much as the one on the Thames has. Not so much rain in Luxor…
Earlier this week, Zahi Hawass, chief something or other of antiquities for Egypt and just general all-around spotlight-hogger and self-promoter, wrote to the city threatening that if conservation efforts are not undertaken, he will take the necessary steps to see the object brought home to Egypt, “and save it from ruin.” This from someone who has failed spectacularly to get Germany to return a famous bust of Nefertiti, and England to return the Rosetta Stone.. I am sure that other examples could be cited. Good luck.
He writes “I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt.” Well, good for you, sir. But that doesn’t give you jurisdiction. What gall, I say. Especially given that the Central Park Conservancy and Metropolitan Museum have in fact been working hard to monitor the conservation status of the monument, and have determined that “there is no evidence at this point of any significant ongoing erosion.”
Look, I appreciate your zeal for protecting the treasures of your heritage. Or, rather, that is, the heritage of the people who were replaced when you Arabs violently took over Egypt in the 7th century. But threatening and accusing is not the way to work together with foreign governments/organizations in a friendly and cooperative manner. In other words, take a chill pill, my friend. And lose the stupid hat. You’re obviously trying too hard.
Thanks to LiveScience.com for reporting on this, and to Archaeology.org for including the LiveScience link on their daily newsfeed. Image courtesy of Wikipedia – GNU Free Documentation License.