Local paper claims damaged pyramid is no longer world heritage site

Controversy continued to surround the renovation of the stepped pyramid of King Zoser in Saqqara on Sunday, as privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm claimed it is no longer on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

Four antiquities specialists said the Shurbagy Company, commissioned to work on the oldest pyramid in Egypt from 2006, is incompetent, the newspaper added.

After examination of the deteriorating condition of the 4,700-year-old pyramid, including its façade, passages and burial rooms, experts claim the company did not abide by the necessary standards for such renovation work, resulting in alterations to the pyramid that make it appear new, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty however denied all allegations of bad renovation work and criticized the media for spreading false rumors.

During a short presser held on Tuesday in Saqqara, the official quoted several experts from the ministry stating that the monument is in good condition, but they reportedly left before any of the attending journalists could ask further questions.

Journalists were permitted entry from the southern gate of the pyramids, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, which is far from the renovation work near the northern gate that leads to 20 passages and several burial rooms.

General manager of the archaeological documentation department, Nour Eddin Abdel Samad, stated on Wednesday that the minister should have confronted the Egyptian people with the truth about the ancient monument, adding that there have been “crimes” committed against the pyramid.

In a phone interview on Dream 2 satellite channel, Abdel Samad explained that the pyramid has been altered completely from the outside.

The official called upon UNESCO to sponsor the remaining renovation work, referring to its previous support for the renovation of the Sphinx, at a cost of US$10 million.


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