sábado, 6 de marzo de 2010

La avenida de las esfinges

El SCA (Egipto) tiene actualmente muchos proyectos de restauración en marcha.

One of the most important is the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor. This is an avenue that stretches between Karnak and Luxor Temples and is lined with sphinxes, although most of it was covered with modern housing.

The Avenue of Sphinxes dates back to the reign of Amenhotep III in the 18th Dynasty. He built an avenue of sphinxes with ram heads, and we also know that before that, Queen Hatshepsut built seven chapels along this route. The most important phase of the avenue is dated to the 30th Dynasty, during the reign of Nectanebo I. At that time the avenue was made up of 1350 sphinxes lining both sides of the road connecting the temples, which was over 70 meters wide. During the Roman Period, the avenue was subjected to destruction. Many people built roads and houses over the top, and reused the sphinxes in their construction.

We decided to begin an important restoration project a few years ago. The initiative started when we found that President Mubarak himself and the Prime Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Nazif, were both very interested to see this avenue beautifully restored. We gave the governor of Luxor, Samir Farag, 30 million Egyptian pounds to compensate those who built their houses over the avenue. We gave them money so that they can buy a new house or apartment.

Next we began the restoration project. The first phase was the excavation of the area. Six teams are excavating now under 30 archaeologists. The areas they are concentrating on are 700 meters south of the road that leads to the airport, as well as 200 meters to the north of the avenue of the sphinxes visible at Luxor Temple. We are also working in many other parts of the avenue. We have discovered until now 650 sphinxes in pieces. We began to restore the sphinxes we found, making bases of modern materials and placing the bodies of the sphinxes on them along the avenue. The restoration is conducted and supervised by Mahmoud Mabrouk, our famous artist, who is my consultant for restoration and museum projects. Mahmoud collected the sphinxes and put them on the bases along with Mansour Boraik, the director of antiquities in Luxor. Sixteen sphinxes are currently undergoing restoration, and will soon be transferred to the area of Luxor Temple.

One of the important discoveries we made while excavating the Avenue of the Sphinxes was the cartouche of Cleopatra VII carved into a limestone block. The presence of this cartouche perhaps indicates that when she was sailing the river with Mark Anthony, they visited the avenue, and maybe she ordered the area to be restored, and they left a cartouche. Along the avenue we have also found workshops for pottery and statues dated to the Roman Period, and also and old Roman wine factory. We hope continued excavation will reveal more important discoveries.

Now, anyone who visits this area will be impressed. Around one month from now, the area for the Mubarak Library will be ready for visitors, and soon we hope to be able to open the avenue for people to walk this ancient religious route.

Fuente: drHawass.com

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