Cultural Postcards + [Near East]

Heritage: UNESCO seeks answers from Egypt on 'damaged' pyramid
UNESCO has asked Egypt for a detailed report on restoration work carried out at the Djoser pyramid following reports the more than 4,600-year-old monument had been damaged.

UNESCO seeks answers from Egypt on 'damaged' pyramid
A file picture taken on September 16, 2014 shows a policeman standing near the step pyramid 
of Djoser at the ancient Egyptian Saqqara necropolis some 20 kilometres south of Cairo. 
UNESCO has asked Egypt for a detailed report on restoration work carried out 
at the Djoser pyramid following reports the more than 4,600-year-old
 monument has been damaged, an official of the UN agency said today
[Credit: AFP/Mohamed El-Shahed]

Egyptian media reported earlier this month that the pyramid, which dominates the necropolis of Saqqara, south-west of Cairo, had been damaged during the restoration work.

"The UNESCO World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the ministry of antiquities requesting a detailed technical report on the work," said Tamar Teneishvili, a senior official from UNESCO in Cairo.

"This request was made after information gathered from the media."

She said UNESCO would wait for the ministry's report to decide on its future plans.

UNESCO has also asked if its own 2011 recommendations on the restoration of the pyramid had been followed.

Several Egyptian experts have criticised the restoration work, saying the monument's original facade had been altered.

Some specialists also said the company hired to do the restoration work, Al-Shurbagy, did not have the necessary experience.

Antiquities minister Mamdouh al-Damati said the criticism was "baseless".

Last week he told a group of journalists invited to see the ongoing restoration that the "work is underway without a problem".

The executive director of the project, Michel Ghobrial Farid, also rejected the criticism, saying the pyramid's appearance was restored the way it was at the time of its construction.

The project started in 2006 but was interrupted in February 2013 due to a lack of funding.

The tomb, built by the master architect Imhotep for the pharaoh Djoser, originally stood 62 metres tall and is considered the oldest building in the world built entirely of stone.

Source: AFP [September 25, 2014]