The Great Wall of Giza

 by Robert M. Schoch  2006

        A couple of readers asked about my take on the wall being built around the Giza Plateau.
To be honest, I have very mixed feelings about the subject. Personally I hate to see the Giza Plateau fenced in and become a walled tourist attraction (and maybe even part of the new museum complex that is being built). I feel this detracts from the setting and inherent magnificence of the monuments there, which of course includes the only surviving wonder of the ancient world - - the Great Pyramid. However, the Giza Plateau is a large area and difficult to police, and as a result, over the years there have been many problems with vandalism and damage to the structures, by souvenir hunters, tourists, camel drivers, Egyptians trying to make a living off of the tourists, and others.

        I am appalled at the graffiti and defacing that has occurred to the Great Pyramid, for instance, by modern tourists; in some cases I have thought to myself, as I admired the monuments there, that if I were dictator of the Giza Plateau I would simply cut off all access completely in order to save the monuments. Now, I would never really do that if I were in charge, but my point is that I can understand and be sympathetic to the predicament of the person who is in charge of the Giza Plateau, and whose responsibility it is to protect the monuments, namely Dr. Zahi Hawass. Despite all of the rumors that continue to fly, I honestly believe at first and foremost Dr. H awass is trying to do his job as best he can.

        I believe the building of the wall is part of the way he is attempting to protect the monuments of the Giza Plateau. We can debate the merits and appropriateness of walling in the plateau, and it may or may not be an effective strategy, but I personally do not think the wall is a way of hiding secret excavations or discoveries. Dr. Hawass has absolute control over the Giza Plateau and he does not need a wall to hide some new discovery. Work being periodically halted and then started up again on the wall is, as far as I am aware, simply a matter of available funding.

        Likewise, as part of his responsibility of caring for the Egyptian antiquities, Dr. Hawass has to be careful and judicious in what research projects he allows and when. I know from experience that there are often many practical, economic (for instance, interfering with tourism, which is an important part of the Egyptian economy), and political reasons that he has for either allowing or not allowing certain research projects to take place at certain times. Despite what people may think and say, and I have heard plenty of anecdotal stories and rumors that even involve my own research and whether or not I was allowed to do this and that, I do not have any evidence that Dr. Hawass is purposefully restraining research because he is afraid of the results or discoveries of such research.




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