Interview: Chinese, Egyptian archaeologists breathe life into once-abandoned Montu Temple in Luxor

Source: Xinhua| 2021-02-01 19:04:01|Editor: huaxia
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Photo taken on Dec. 17, 2020 shows a man working at the archeological site in the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt. A Chinese-Egyptian archeological mission has breathed life into the once-abandoned Montu Temple in the Karnak Temple Complex of Egypt's monument-rich city of Luxor, said an official with Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

LUXOR, Egypt, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese-Egyptian archeological mission has breathed life into the once-abandoned Montu Temple in the Karnak Temple Complex of Egypt's monument-rich city of Luxor, said an official with Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Mustafa al-Saghir, director-general of Karnak Temple Complex Antiquities, told Xinhua in a recent interview that "although the joint Egyptian-Chinese mission has been working for two seasons only, it has achieved very significant results at the temple."

The mission is doing excavations through which the architectural elements of the temple are being revealed, he said.

"There are also restoration works in many parts of the temple... the mission is also conducting special studies such as the study of pottery and inscriptions found in the temple and its buildings," the official added.

Al-Saghir pointed out that the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the mission's work, revealing that the Chinese team could not come to Egypt to complete its works for this season.

"We are working at the site to avoid any negative effects... the Egyptian crew is currently completing some minor works to keep the work at the temple ongoing," he added.

The Egyptian official said there are many archaeological missions operating in Egypt, adding that it is always a good thing to have missions that can help save and unearth Egyptian antiquities and heritage.

He stressed that the members of the Chinese mission have great knowledge in the field of archeology, noting that China also has a great and ancient civilization.

"The Egyptian members of the mission were chosen carefully... they have great experiences in Egyptian archeology," al-Saghir said.

"Cooperation is great between the two sides, and this is the main reason that led the mission to achieve great results during only two seasons," he added.

Al-Saghir said a Chinese study and research center for Egyptian antiquities will be established in Egypt, which will focus on studying the ancient Egyptian archaeology and civilization, as well as sponsoring the activities of the Chinese archaeological missions that will work in Egypt in the future.

"Research centers help maintain the work of missions and raise the level of scientific research," al-Saghir said, expressing hope that more Chinese missions would come to work in Egypt.

"China has up-to-date technologies that are used in excavations and restoration... this is very helpful for us in Egypt," he said.

The first Egyptian-Chinese archeological mission in Egypt is the outcome of a protocol of cooperation signed between the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. They formed a joint Egyptian-Chinese archaeological mission to do the excavation works in the relics of Montu Temple that was untouched and closed for visitors for decades.

The first season of the joint mission started in late November 2018 and continued for about four months.

In a recent interview, the head of the Chinese archaeological mission Jia Xiaobing told Xinhua that further excavation and documentation work has been fulfilled in the second season of the Egyptian-Chinese archeological mission at the Montu Temple.

Meanwhile, al-Saghir said Egyptian archaeological teams at the Karnak Temple Complex took advantage of last year's months-long coronavirus-related closure to restore the 29 statues of rams in the first courtyard of the Karnak Temple.

"The statues were in a very poor condition of reservation due to the factors of weather," al-Saghir said, adding that the project is the largest restoration project carried out by Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities at the complex in recent years.

"We are very proud that this project was carried out by Egyptian hands despite the challenges we faced due to the spread of the pandemic as well as the limited capabilities," he added.

The official said that many projects have been implemented and a number of discoveries have been made in Luxor last year, which greatly helped creat job opportunities.

Al-Saghir said implementing such projects helped seasonal workers in the city earn money to sustain their families after they lost their jobs due to the coronavirus-related measures imposed by the government.

"This mainly benefited those who work in the tourism sector which was suspended for months," al-Saghir said.

Egypt, one of the world's oldest civilizations, has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage and discover the secrets of its ancient artifacts.

Over the past few years, the country has witnessed several big archaeological discoveries including pharaonic tombs, statues, coffins, mummies, burial sites, and funerary gardens. Enditem

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