Recent Conference Focuses on Fayoum and its Forgotten Monuments
Antiquity News for
June 29th 2001
By Amargi Hillier
Note: News Briefs for June 29, 2001 follow article.
(Fayoum) Fayoum is considered one of the richest places in Egypt with its monuments dating back to 550 BC. Unfortunately, it is still a forgotten location now suffering from lack of attention.
A conference was held last week in Fayoum to discuss the future of tourist development and archaeological restoration plans for the Fayoum monuments.
Head of the conference was Dr. Abdel Halim Nour El-Din, Director of the Archaeological Faculty in Fayoum. He presented his research showing the role of Fayoum through its monuments and its history in all ages.
In the inaugural session of the conference, Dr. Samir El-Khooly, the Fayoum Governor, gave a special presentation chronicling the Fayoum monuments across the centuries (Pharaonic, Greek, Romanian, Coptic, Islamic) and up to its modern time. Dr. El-Khooly urged immediately that antiquity efforts to be focused in this area in order to preserve the prominent history of Fayoum as well as to develop the area for tourists. Some of the monuments he mentioned were the Hawara Pyramid, Lahoon, Karanis City, Karoon's Palace, Monastery of Angel Gabriel, the Seila Pyramid, the two pyramids of Lahoon, the Temple of Labyrinth, the cemetery treasures of Nefrobetah, remnants of the City of Karanis, the El-Rayan Valley, and more.
Dr. El-Khooly pointed to the fact that there are already many websites on the internet talking about the most prominent monuments in Fayoum and these are the areas which tend to attract tourists. He feels that the governorate itself, as well as a scientific body, should also present its own series of internet sites about Fayoum to ensure the public receives accurate and current information. The Fayoum governor had also requested that the conference members work together to plan new tourists maps revealing all the Fayoum antiquities and the best routes to get there to see them. These efforts are all in a new cause to stimulate more tourism in Fayoum. More books about Fayoum are all ready in the works, including one already published.
In his research book titled "Artistic & Historical Glances About El-Fayoum", Mr. Mostafa El-Zaydi retraces the history of Fayoum dating from the ancient epochs, where traces from the recent stone epoch had been found at Karoon's Lake coasts. Attention was paid to Fayoum during the middle state when Amenhetop I all the way up to when King Senossort II began his great project of the Lahoon Dam; an irrigation project also attempted by Amenhetop III. The book also discusses events during the of the third transition when a military garrison had been established at the entrance of Fayoum. During the period of Ptolemus II, many of the mercenaries (Greeks & Macedonians) who worshiped the God Sobek had settled in this region. Thousands of papyri have been found beside many Coptic portraits.
Some risks and problems in Fayoum were also addressed at the conference. Samia Emara noticed the dangerous effects of the underground water in underground cavities especially near the Hawara pyramids. Wild grass also seems to be a dangerous ecological concern so a special program is being developed to combat these weeds. There are also indigenous hashish plants which are of concern and need to be eliminated.
Mr. Wagdy Ramadan, author of "The Forgotten Monuments in Fayoum", calls for the necessity to create a national museum for Fayoum to properly display the vast artifacts found in that region. He mentioned as an example the famous treasures of Fayoum which consists of the jewelry of Queens and Kings of the 12th Dynasty.
Mr. Ahmed Abdel, an antiquity reporter in Cairo, contributed to the conference a talk about the Fayoum Faces which were found by William Flanders in 1888 in Hawara. He discussed the controversy surrounding the Faces as some experts feel they are not Egyptian faces, but rather Romans.
Officials in the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) have been requested to complete scientific research, restoration efforts, and tourist related constructions in order to activate tourism in the region.
News Briefs for June 29, 2001
Mr. Sabry Abdalazeez, Head of Antiquities for Upper Egypt, announced the unearthing of a Ptelomic tomb in Karnak. The Egyptian/French expedition team exploring in the Karnak temples area found the foundation of a building belonging to King Ahmen Hotep II from the 18th Dynasty. Beside it they found a dome built from bricks dating back to the Ptelomic era which probably was used as a grave.
A restoration team under the direction of the Bureau of Antiquities of Northern Cairo found reminants of the Northern ancient wall of Cairo inside the vicinity of El- Moayed Sheikh Mosque. They also found walls of the ancient prision where Moayed Sheikh was held as prisoner. It is known that this mosque was built on the reminants of the prison.
Mr. Said Hegazy has been elected to be the Head of Antiquities for the Sharkaya & Kaliobaya governorates following the promotion of Mohamed Maksoot, Head of Antiquities in the Northern Sea Coast area.
Mr. Sabry Abdalazeez, Head of the Antiquities for Upper Egypt, replied on what was said earlier within the antiquity community that the underground water is a threat to the temples in Luxor and Karnak. He said that Luxor has no proper water disposal system. In addition to that, sugar cane plantations are a major threat since the farming of this plant needs requires a lot of water. The nature of the soil of the area is now being researched by a Swedish company in cooperation with the Egyptian Institute for Underground Water Research. The aim for this research is to decrease the underground water.
Notable Antiquity Event - June 29, 2001
Sidi Mohamed Assagheir Mosque Opens; Contains Body of The Prophet's Companion
The Sidi Mohamed Assagheir Mosque mosque is situated in a poorer area far unkown by most tourists. But the mosque is of great importance for lying in it is the body of Mohamed Ben Abubaker Asadik, son of on Abubaker Asadik, who was one of the companions to Prophet Mohammed.
The mosque was built in 820 Hijri or 1438 AD. However it is still vague as to who built the mosque. It was renovated in ancient times in 1217 Hijri by Mohammed Amir Pasha. The mosque is also known by the name 'Hanging Mosque'. The mosque has three main inner chambers: the entrance, the tomb/grave, and the prayer hall.
Engineer Addel Hanafi, Chief Inspector of the Project of Restoration, said that before restoration the mosque was under serious threat. Some structural damage had taken place over time, as well as fittings had lost their original essence. He states, "The 1992 earthquake in Cairo caused some damage to the mosque. The dome of the minaret fell and also the dome above the tomb collapsed. The SCA issued restoration efforts beginning in 1994. Everything now is renewed and restored. We are very happy about this for this is an important mosque."
As for the popularity mosque, it holds great importance to Arab tourists, Bedouins and some Indian and Pakistan visitors. These people strongly believe that prayers preformed in this mosque will be heard and accepted by God. Not many Egyptians, however, know about this mosque.