Friday, March 20, 2009

UNESCO celebrates 1960s Nubian salvage project


UNESCO is commemorating the mammoth combined effort by archaeologists, engineers and researchers from across the globe which led to the salvaging of extraordinary temples and Pharaonicc monuments which would otherwise have disappeared under the waters of Lake Nasser with the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Fifty years on from the earnest appeal sent out from Egypt and Sudan for an international salvage campaign for the Nubian monuments, UNESCO will be celebrating this important anniversary with the conference: 'Lower Nubia: Revisiting memories of the past, envisaging perspectives for the future' to be held on March 21-24.

With the construction of the great dam - approved by the Egyptian government in 1958 to allow the country's economy to be modernised, and built between 1960 and 1964 - 360 kilometres of territory in Egypt and 140 in Sudan were to be irretrievably transformed into a great inland sea. Which is why the Cairo and Khartoum governments resolved to sign an official request for an appeal to UNESCO.

So it was that in 1960 the organisation turned to its member states and what was later to be called the greatest archaeological salvage operation of all time got underway. Over 70 separate archaeological missions from 25 countries explored each of the Nubian regions that were due to be flooded, both in Egypt and in Sudan. ''Hundreds of sites were inventoried and thousands of objects were identified and conserved'', recalls Professor Giuseppe Fanfoni, director of the Italo-Egyptian Centre for Restoration and Archaeology in Cairo.

See the above page for the full story. The photo above shows Wadi es Sebua and is one of many on display in the Nubia Museum in Aswan.

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