Friday 19 August 2011

Egypt Antiquities Organization Gets New Chief

Egypt Antiquities gets new chief : Al-Ahram's Nevine El-Aref obviously misses the sprightly PhD in the denims and the hat whom she always took great care to present in the best possible light. He's gone now, and now they've dismissed the head of the SCA whom he appointed before he was forced out of office. Thursday 18 Aug 2011
Mohamed Abdel Fatah is the newly appointed Secretary General of the Supreme Council [of] Antiquities filling the post once made famous by
and although the sentence is unfinished, I think we can all fill in the name that an editor deleted.
Following two months of the cancelation of the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appointed Mohamed Abdel Fatah the new Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). Abdel Fatah was the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the SCA. He previously served as head of the Museums sectors and director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt.
He replaces Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud. So, a museum man, that might be helpful in getting certain issues over storerooms and inventorisation sorted out, though certain progress was made under his predecessor-but-one. I can record that several egyptological colleagues who have worked with him have expressed satisfaction with the new appointment.

Al-Ahram apparently did an in-depth report recently on the problems that still face Egypt’s antiquities. According to the report, both official laws and security precautions are still allowing for a constant outflow of stolen pharaonic artefacts from Egypt’s museums and historical sites. An English version of this report seems not to have appeared.

There has been something similar from Al Masry Al Youm: ('Egyptian antiquities suffering due to turmoil at the top') from the period just before the spate of he-is-out/no-he's-not/yes-he-is which seems the norm in this field in Egypt. While still the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud warned that Egyptian antiquities are in a “dire state, deteriorating from bad to worse”. He attributed this "to the failure of the state to resolve the fate of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, by either keeping it as a governmentally supervised council or transforming it into a ministry with a separate budget".

After the resignation of Hawass in the middle of July, and the rejection of the candidacy of Fattah al-Banna as his successor, the SCA headed by Abdel Maqsoud, by default became the
sole authority governing antiquities, as an independent body informally affiliated with the cabinet.
However, an official ministerial decision on the matter was never issued. “Mechanisms enabling the secretary general to make executive decisions are absent,” says Abdel Maksood, adding that an official cabinet decision is needed to declare the council’s role.
With the new appointment, it seems that this problem has now been fixed, though Abdel Maqsud himself no longer runs the SCA. It remains to be seen what happens to him.

Interestingly in the past couple of days Zahi Hawass, who had remained silent for about a month has written (himself it looks like, not ghost-written) an interesting post on his blog to all his supporters, announcing some of the writing he is doing and planning to do. It includes "a book about the Egyptian Revolution, and its effect on our antiquities" which could be interesting reading.

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