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HIS 7 - Ancient Egypt: Archaeologist

Ancient sites under threat


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The Great Pyramids of Giza have weathered 46 centuries; of wars, earthquakes, floods, and dust storms, but the 47th century is

looking like being one of their worst. The pyramids are in the pathway of man-made "progress". Built in the desert, they are now flanked by Cairo's outer suburbs, and haphazardly, and often illegally, built apartment houses are blocking the pyramids from view. Tourist shops sprawl to within a few hundred metres of the Sphinx, which shares the limestone plateau at Giza with the pyramids. A factory with chimney stacks that belch black smoke, a military barracks and a housing complex

for 15,000 people crowd the monuments. Some of the colossal limestone blocks of the three pyramids have crumbled away, eroded by pollution. The pyramids are on UNESCO's list of protected world heritage sites, but that status has failed to halt the pollution, or the growth of the urban sprawl around the monuments. And it couldn't prevent the construction of an eight-lane ring road around Cairo, part of which is only 2.5 kilometres from the pyramids. Dr. Zahi Hawas, Head of Archeological excavations at the pyramids, predicts a rush to build along the ring road, more pollution, overcrowding, and traffic around the pyramids. Recent public awareness of the threat of the ring road, and pressure from UNESCO, have brought a temporary stop but it appears that it has not been quite enough.

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