An Ancient Pyramid Is Getting a Modern Makeover. Critics Are Outraged.

dramatic storm cloud above pyramids, giza, egypt
An Ancient Pyramid Is Getting a Modern Makeover.JimPix - Getty Images
  • The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has partnered with Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists to restore the missing outer layer of one of the pyramids of Giza.

  • The project aims to cover the entire outer shell of the pyramid with granite “tiles” in order to make the pyramid look as it would have when it was originally finished.

  • The undertaking has received significant backlash online.

They’re… they’re renovating one of the Pyramids of Giza.

There’s no joke there. There’s no fun quip. It’s just a fact. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has partnered with Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists to try and restore the layer of granite blocks that used to encase the entirety of the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the three main Giza pyramids.

“There have been numerous projects throughout history that have been dubbed ‘Project of the Century,’” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said according to Arab News. “But, in my opinion, the task of restoring the granite casing of the Menkaure Pyramid is as significant and crucial as (any of them).”

We’ve known about the casing that used to envelop the pyramid for some time. If one had observed the pyramid around the time its construction was completed, the sides would have looked much more smoothly tiled—more like a brick wall than a series of steps.

You can see workers laying some of these “tiles” in the video below, which was posted to Facebook by Waziri. Though, the word “tiles” is a bit of an understatement for these giant blocks of granite.

Waziri reportedly believes that this project will be “a gift from Egypt to the world.”

But the world does not seem pleased. In fact, the announcement immediately sparked backlash online.

“It is not possible,” Egyptologist Monica Hanna said in a digitally translated comment. “All international restoration covenants reject this intervention in all its forms. I request all professors […] of archaeology and restoration to immediately stand against this project.”

“We are used to it and the world is used to seeing the panorama of the pyramids as it is now,” one Facebook user stated in a digitally translated comment. “It is connected in the minds of the world as it is now. What if this humanitarian teacher is defamed?”

Some, like Egyptologist Salima Ikram, are more cautious than they are outraged. “The idea of re-covering the pyramid with the stones that fell from it themselves could be acceptable, provided that the reliance is entirely on the stones found in its surroundings without any addition of other new stones,” she told Independent Arabia in a statement that was then digitally translated. “This project must be completed with extreme precision and at the highest level because the eyes of the whole world are on the Pyramids of Giza. They are not just an ordinary monument, but rather one of the most important monuments in the whole world.”

But others find the idea ridiculous. “When will the project to straighten the Tower of Pisa be planned?” asked one person, according to AFP. “Rather than tiles, why not wallpaper the pyramids?” another user reportedly asked.

One commenter simply wrote: “Oh world, leave our heritage alone.”

Only time will tell what the results of this project will be. Hopefully, the wonder of the ancient pyramids remains in tact.

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