egypt pyramid renovation proposal at giza sparks backlash straightening the tower of pisa critic says

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A proposal to renovate one of the three iconic pyramids in Giza is getting some pushback from critics, one of whom likened such a venture to “straightening the Tower of Pisa.” 

The project concerns the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the Giza pyramids, built more than 4,000 years ago. The aim is to restore the pyramid to how it may have looked when it was originally built.  

This picture taken on July 1, 2020 shows a general view of (R to L) the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Menkheres) at the Giza Pyramids necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Built around 2,500 B.C., the Pyramid of Menkaure stood more than 200 feet tall but has since been whittled down by erosion and vandalism. Roughly one-third of the structure was clad with granite blocks. 

Set to coincide with the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, described the restoration plan as “a gift from Egypt to the world.” 

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Waziri shared a video last Friday of the project already underway. Workers can be seen setting blocks of granite at the base of the pyramid. 

The video prompted a flurry of divided opinions. 

Critics, such as Egyptologist Monica Hanna, have argued that the structure should be preserved as is, rather than trying to create its original appearance, per AFP

“When are we going to stop the absurdity in the management of Egyptian heritage?” she said, comparing such ventures to “straightening the Tower of Pisa” in Italy. 

egyptian pyramids

Tourists pose for a “selfie” photo on a cell phone at an overlook by the Pyramid of Menkaure (Menkheres) at the Giza pyramids necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital on March 13, 2020.  (MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP via Getty Images)

The backlash has prompted the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to form a committee of experts to evaluate the project. A verdict is expected in the coming days, per reporting from The Telegraph

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The renovation proposal is part of a larger “project of the century” initiative to develop the Giza Pyramids area. This includes opening the Grand Egyptian Museum and upgrading local infrastructure – efforts aimed at boosting Egypt’s tourism industry to help the country’s beleaguered economy.

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