Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Egyptian obelisk receives lack of care

The collapse of buildings in Pompeii have caused much concern. There have been suggestions by some that it demonstrates that Italy does not care for its cultural property: indeed, that 130 or so antiquities should have remained in their North American public and private collections rather than going back to Italy.

North American commentators who hold such views will have been chastened to read the text of a letter that Zahi Hawass has written to the president of the Central Park Conservancy and Michael R. Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City. It includes these strong words:
I am sure you are well aware of the obelisk of Thutmose III, referred to as “Cleopatra’s Needle,” that has resided in Central Park since 1880. I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given. Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away. I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt. If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.
I am sure that with a little common sense a solution for the obelisk can be found - just as one will emerge for the far more extensive and complex site of Pompeii.

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Cultural Property Observer said...

Apples and oranges. It's hard to protect monuments from weathering in cold places like New York and London. What does Hawass expect? Encasement in glass perhaps? Anyway, New York isn't asking for repatriation of its cultural heritage from Egypt or anywhere else as far as I can tell. In contrast, Egypt and Italy are and should be held to account for it.

Best regards,

Peter Tompa

Paul Barford said...

Is it any harder to stop the rain falling on Pompeii?

It is interesting to see the coiney lobbyists engage in special pleading when it is their own country's care of the few ancient monuments they have that is in question.

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