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Egypt Clads Pyramid in Granite in a Controversial Project

Egypt pyramid granite
Egyptian officials describe the project as “Project of the Century.” Credit: Video screenshot, Facebook/Mostafa Waziri

Egypt is renovating an ancient pyramid using granite blocks in a project that has been criticized by experts and likened to “straightening the Tower of Pisa.”

The granite blocks are being installed at the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the three main pyramids of Giza. A joint Egyptian-Japanese archaeological mission is carrying out the project.

“This is a huge project that requires many collaborators,” Dr. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said. Waziri and Dr. Yoshimura Sakoguchi are the leaders of the mission.

Waziri continued: “There have been numerous projects throughout history that have been dubbed ‘Project of the Century,’ but, in my opinion, the task of restoring the granite casing of the Menkaure Pyramid is as significant and crucial as (any of them).”

He described the project as “a gift from Egypt to the world,” coinciding with the upcoming opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, as it will facilitate the “first complete viewing” of the pyramid in modern times.

There were originally sixteen granite blocks used for the pyramid’s outer casing, but only seven remain today.

In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Mostafa Waziri, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, showed workers setting blocks of granite on the base of the pyramid, which sits beside the sphinx and the larger Khafre and Cheops pyramids at Giza.

As workers toil beside the juxtaposing grey and golden blocks, Waziri gestures while informing viewers about the process.

Project to clad pyramid in granite angers archaeologists

The project has drawn the ire and ridicule of archaeologists. Egyptologist Monica Hanna wrote: “Impossible! The only thing missing was to add tiling to the pyramid of Menkaure! When are we going to stop the absurdity in the management of Egyptian heritage?” she asked.

“All international principles on renovations prohibit such interventions,” Hanna added, calling on all archaeologists to “mobilize immediately.”

Other commentators reacted with sarcasm. “When will the project to straighten the Tower of Pisa be planned?” asked one individual.

“Rather than tiles, why not wallpaper the pyramids?” said another.

The pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three main pyramids of the Giza pyramid complex, located on the Giza Plateau in the southwestern outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. It is thought to have been built to serve as the tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure.

The pyramid’s date of construction is unknown because Menkaure’s reign has not been accurately defined, but it was probably completed in the 26th century BC.

It is a few hundred meters southwest of its larger neighbors, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Khufu in the Giza necropolis.

Constructed of limestone and Aswan granite, its exterior’s first sixteen courses were made of red granite. The upper portion was cased in the normal manner with Tura limestone.  Incomplete projects such as this pyramid help archaeologists understand the methods used to build pyramids and temples.

RelatedMystery of How the Pyramids Were Built Solved by Scientists

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