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Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs


Egypt on Sunday completed a project to restore the catacombs of Kom el-Shuqafa in western Alexandria, which have been prone to groundwater leaks since they were discovered in the first decade of the 20th century.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit : Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
The restoration, which began in late 2017, was completed using a $5.7 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The grant also covered maintenance and training for ministry employees.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


“The antiquity underwent many restoration projects, the most important of which was in the mid-nineties, which was an ambitious project supervised by the Supreme Council of Antiquities,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said from the site on Sunday.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit : Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
“But unfortunately, the water returned once again and complaints rolled in from parliamentarians, tour guides and archaeologists, which is what pushed us to act in cooperation with USAID.”

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit : Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


The catacombs are unique, mixing ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman architectural styles. They were carved into the rock on three levels. The ground level was damaged by water from nearby farmland and a canal, as well as sewage water.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
The antiquities ministry has previously cooperated with USAID on several groundwater-removal projects in Cairo, Giza, Luxor and Aswan.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


Al-Anani said a similar project will be opened on March 25 at Kom Ombo in Aswan governorate.

Egypt completes restoration of Kom el-Shuqafa catacombs
Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
Egypt has been working to revive its tourism industry - a key source of foreign currency - which was badly hit after the 2011 popular uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak and was further hampered by a spate of militant attacks that sometimes targeted visitors.

Source: Reuters [March 03, 2019]

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