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Egypt moving Luxor sphinxes to Cairo’s Tahrir Square

The avenue of Sphinxes at Luxor Temple, as seen on September 28, 2004 [Dennis Jarvis / Flickr]
The avenue of Sphinxes at Luxor Temple, Egypt, as seen on September 28, 2004 [Dennis Jarvis / Flickr]

Egypt’s state-run Ahram newspaper has announced that the Supreme Council of Antiquities has installed the pyramid shaped top of the Tahrir Square obelisk.

Over the next few days four ram-headed sphinxes from Karnak Temple in Luxor will be placed in the square, under the Tahrir Square development scheme.

Last year, Egypt’s decision to transport the sandstone statues from the dry environment of Luxor to the polluted heart of Cairo caused widespread controversy and a petition to stop the move was circulated.

The decision to move the statues was not debated in parliament and only came to the public’s attention after archaeologists objected.

Archaeologists and social media users called on the government to install replicas in Cairo instead of moving the statues.

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Egypt’s capital has some of the highest pollution rates in the world and heritage experts are concerned that vehicle exhaust will damage the statues.

Experts have warned that the sandstone will deteriorate when it reacts with the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air.

President of UNESCO’s Arab Centre for World Heritage Sheikha Mai Al Khalifa said that that a move of this magnitude must be preceded by consulting the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Al Khalifa sent a letter to the Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Minister objecting to the transfer of the statues.

MP Mohamed Abdel Ghani made an urgent statement to the Prime Minister and the Antiquities Minister asking the government which studies it carried out in order to make the decision to move the statues.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Judicial Court demanding the transportation of the artifacts be stopped.

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