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After decades of trying, Egypt says residents who live above

 
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kat
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:11 am    Post subject: After decades of trying, Egypt says residents who live above Reply with quote

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/02/africa/ME_GEN_Egypt_Residents_vs_Tombs.php


After decades of trying, Egypt says residents who live above ancient Luxor tombs will move

The Associated Press



The Egyptian government has been trying since World War II to move the people who live in the hills above Luxor's West Bank to give tourists and archaeologists access to the nearly 1,000 Pharaonic tombs that lie beneath their homes.

After decades of failed negotiations, officials said on Saturday that most of 3,200 families that own the brightly painted, mud-brick homes over the tombs have agreed to pack up and move to a newly constructed US$32 million (€24.16 million) complex located less than 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the hillside.

"Most of them want to leave and they demand to leave," said Rania Yusuf, a spokeswoman for Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities in Luxor.

Only a few families continue to resist the move, "and they will leave, believe me," she said.

Negotiations between the government and the residents have repeatedly faltered over the last 60 years even as the government tried to entice them to leave with promises of new homes elsewhere.

But the bulk of the residents, many of whom depend on Luxor's thriving tourist industry to earn a living, continued to resist, saying the new homes being offered were too small and didn't come with new jobs.

Over time though, many have grown tired of the struggles of living on top of ancient tombs. In an effort to preserve the antiquities, authorities prohibit the residents from building and restoring their homes and installing modern plumbing, forcing the residents to bring water up the hillside using donkeys.

Many also say they are happy with the deal the government is currently offering them, which includes giving residents either new homes or plots of land in the complex that will include a market, police station, cultural center and schools. The government wants all the residents to move, it plans to preserve a few of houses, some which are more than 200 years old.

"We are happy, but at the same time we are not happy, because we leave the best place here," said resident Nadia Mohammad Qassem, who is still unsure of when she and her family will move. The Egyptian government has not set a deadline for when the residents must leave or for when the complex would be completed.

The arrival of European antiquity hunters in the late 18th and early 19th centuries originally pushed Egyptians to move into the Theban hills, where they were enlisted to help excavate — and loot — artifacts. The residents' homes are located near the Valley of the Kings and its famous collection of well-preserved tombs that draw thousands of tourists daily to Luxor.

Elina Paulin-Grothe, an archaeologist involved tombs' excavation, said the best way to preserve the artifacts below is to move the resident, though she praised government efforts to safe a few of the mud-brick homes.

"This cannot continue and the population is growing too fast. For the young people this is the advantage to move," she said.

Advocates for the residents say many have resisted moving over the decades not because they didn't want to live in more modern homes but because they wanted to move on their own terms — not the government's.

"I mean, nobody wants to live in those conditions when they know that most of Egypt doesn't live like that and the world has moved on," said Caroline Simpson, a former archaeologist who coordinates a small cultural exhibition on the hillside.

Other residents say even though their living conditions are poor, the hillside is their home and a part of who they are.

"For me, I don't want to even imagine what it would look like. Without houses, it's a dead place," said resident Abdo Osman Daramali.
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kat
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:42 am    Post subject: Egypt Moves to Empty a Village Near the Tombs of the Pharaoh Reply with quote

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/world/africa/03egypt.html?_r=1&oref=slogin




Egypt Moves to Empty a Village Near the Tombs of the Pharaohs





By REUTERS
Published: December 3, 2006
GURNA, Egypt, Dec. 2 (Reuters) — Bulldozers moved Saturday into an Egyptian village near the Valley of the Kings in pursuit of a long-delayed effort to allow archaeologists to begin studying a wealth of tombs in the area.

Gurna is the village closest to the Valley of the Kings, where Tutankhamen and other pharaohs were buried.

It lies on top of a vast necropolis where wealthy and powerful commoners built their painted tombs in the second millennium B.C.

The Egyptian government, with advice from architect and intellectual Hassan Fathi, tried to move them in 1948 by building the model village of New Gurna on the banks of the Nile, but most trickled back to their old homes.

On Saturday, the bulldozers picked away at four uninhabited mud- brick houses, apparently in an attempt to show that the government was serious this time.

Samir Farag, the governor of nearby Luxor, the center of the tourist trade in the area, said 120 houses had been demolished in the last week and that all but five or six people in the village had signed up for the new resettlement program, which involves 3,200 households.

But with a handful of exceptions, the inhabitants of the village of Gurna said they strongly opposed the resettlement plan, which will cut them off from access to the tourists on whom most depend for a living.

“Over my dead body,” said a young man, who declined to give his name because of the large police presence for a ceremony attended by dignitaries from Cairo.

“If they try to move in here, then we will meet them with our rifles,” he added.

The most common complaints from villagers were that the new houses, at about 800 square feet, were too small for people with big families and that people would lose their livelihoods in the tourist business.

A middle-aged man who complained in detail about the house allocation system said: “There is a complete lack of trust. The government people are all liars. They promise things in public and yet we see nothing.”

Dawi Mohamed Ahmed, who owns a workshop making alabaster vases and statues in Gurna, said that if he moved, he would lose his customers.

The governor said the workshops would have to move but the shops could stay.

The authorities had said they would move many families on Saturday, but in the end no more than four moved.

Officials said this was because of the commotion caused by the official ceremony.
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Chrismackint
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow so there really is hope of finding more royals, perhaps even Tut's wife!
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Nekht-Ankh
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:
Wow so there really is hope of finding more royals, perhaps even Tut's wife!

That would be a major surprise. The tombs at Gurna belong to important non-royal people.
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kat
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have permission from the original author to repost this note to the EEF ml list here:

Dear List,

As many of you will know, the authorities are moving the Qurnawi
off the hillside.

The reason given is to discover and excavate more tombs.

For this they are using bulldozers in the back of the Nobles Tombs area.

This is a message I received yesterday morning:
Just spoke to M, 17.30 Egyptian time, Hurubat being bulldozed as
we spoke, large scale, much noise, engines and trucks audible in the
background... Some still not wanting to leave, most sad and angry.
As M put it, "our hamlet is gone..."

No site management plan has been written, even discussed, for this
precious area. Leaving aside the damage to the more ancient history,
the history of the last 200 years is being bulldozed. That will include
Yanni's house and those of all his later neighbours.

The owner of the new Guest House up by Sennufer showed the
Minister of Culture around the other day and told him that only
two buildings had been given permission to stay - one of them
was his new fired brick guest house with its water and showers
for guests.

Say goodbye Qurna, and weep.

Yours in great sadness,

Caroline Simpson
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