Site Management and Tourism
by Zahi Hawass
Archaeologists in Egypt are generally unaware of the pressing need for protection of archaeological sites from tourism. The term "site management" might profitably be introduced to those involved in the administration of these sites throughout
the Near East. Site management can save archaeological sites from the inherent dangers that mass tourism introduces. It can also be used to prepare sites for conservation/restoration, artifact recordation and training programs, and it may be of
considerable use to Archaeologists doing scholarly work.
Some examples of the indisputable need for protection of the sites follow:
1. Abu Simbel
The site of Abu-Simbel in the South contains two important temples, those of Rameses II and his Queen Nerfertari. In 1972, UNESCO sponsored a world- wide campaign to save these monuments when they were threatened by the construction of the
Aswan High Dam. The campaign demonstrated how many nations might cooperate to preserve their common human heritage. UNESCO deserves credit for saving these temples from the destruction that is all too often a byproduct of urban development.1
The damage caused by tourism on the temples of Abu Simbel is well documented. It's not uncommon for more than two thousand tourists to visit the temples in an hour and half. Recently, a large stone fell from the ceiling of the Ramses temple, no doubt loosened by the loud voices of tour guides, tourists touching the temple walls, camera flashes, and the heat and humidity introduced by so many bodies in a small space. Additionally, exhaled carbon dioxide shortens the longevity of the stone itself.
Complicating the problem, there is no communication between tourist authorities and antiquities personnel. The site of Abu Simbel is easy to manage, and a site management plan can be easily applied to the site to benefit both tourism and temple
preservation.2 The authorities of the Aswan Governorate, tourism officials, Antiquities police, development division, and the airlines should meet and discuss the preliminary plan of "site management" and its relation to tourism. The site management plan for Abu- Simbel should be designed and applied directly for the benefit of the preservation of the temples. A sensible plan would be as follows:
1.1 A cultural center should be
built near the site to explain the history and archaeology of the temples, and the story
of the modem technology involved in moving and saving the temples by UNESCO. The story
might be explained with a short
documentary or Imax film.3 The center should contain guide books on the site, and sell copies of artifacts related to Rameses II. This center would be an attraction to tourists, and at the same time would provide funds for the preservation of the site.
1.2 A "safe zone" around the two temples, in which automobiles are not permitted, should be established and enforced. The same safe zone should be applied to other sites, such as the Temples of Edfu, Kom-Ombo and Esna. These temples,
surrounded by modem urbanites, suffer from such byproducts of urbanization as lack of proper sewage disposal, fumes from cooking and baking, and exhaust from modern vehicles. The temple of Esna suffers from the moisture of a high water table. These three sites urgently need a management plan.
1.3 The village of Abu-Simbel is a wonderful place, and it is a shame the tourists spend only two hours of their guided tours visiting it.4 It is very important that a tourism plan be made for this site. The tourism industry would benefit from the building of more motels, and from evening entertainment, such as Nubian folk dancing. Tourists could also fish on Lake Nassar.5
1.4 Sound and light companies are planning to introduce a show for the tourists in different languages. It is important that everyone be involved in this plan, which should be overseen by site management officials.
1.5 Immediate action should be taken to limit the tourist influx by creating a timetable to spread tourists out during the day. Last year the Supreme Council of Antiquities had decided to require tourist guides to explain the temples from outside before their groups enter; thereby, preventing the carnival atmosphere that usually prevails within. Such decisions, while helpful, should ideally be discussed by both tourism and cultural authorities, rather than being unilaterally implemented. When a final schedule is implemented travel agencies should be required to cooperate with it.
For both Archaeology and Tourism he site of Luxor could be the most important site in the world. Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile, was called Thebes by the Greeks, and Waset by the Ancient Egyptians. Thebes reached its peak during the New Kingdom. (1500-1700 B.C.) The West bank also contains royal mortuary temples, approximately four hundred private tombs, and occupies an area of about seven and one half kilometers. These tombs are located in Dra Abuel-Naga, Deir el-Bahri, el-Khokha, Asasif, Sheikh Abdel Qurna, Deir el-Medina, and Qurnet Mural. The East side of the Nile contains the great Temples of Karnak and Luxor. They were the places of worship of the Gods: Amon, Montu, Mut, and Khonsu. Also on the West bank are found the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings, el-Tarif, and Dra Abu-el-Naga, and The Valley of the Queens.6
2.1 Luxor is a
unique city. Its atmosphere of quiet, ancient streets, and culturally special people
should be preserved. It would be horrendous to come upon a golf course or high-rise
building on the banks of the Nile. On the other hand it would be of great
aesthetic value if buses, and autos, were prohibited from driving along the Nile in the evening. One can imagine the pleasant appearance and sounds of carriages rolling along the Comiche.
2.2 A "safe zone" should be developed for the Luxor and Karnak temples. Houses within this zone should be demolished. The same zone should be developed for the Valley of the Kings.
2.3 A Conservation Center should be established on the West bank. From this center archaeologists could study and diagnose problems, and plan their solutions, tomb excavations could be overseen., and the opening and closing of tombs to tourists could be evaluated. This center would be ideal as the central location for the archaeological management of the area of Luxor.
2.4 A Conservation Lab should be established. It should be manned by scholars in the field of conservation, and restoration. The lab could serve as a center for collecting and recording data on the tombs and temples in the valley.
2.5 A Visitor Center should be established. It should meet the needs of the tourists, and be educational and culturally informative as well.
2.6 Certain tombs should be replicated in a site away from the valley. The Malkata site would be ideal for this purpose. These replications would allow tourists to see the inside of the tombs without damaging them. The original tombs of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, Seti I and Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, and Senndjem at Deir el-Medina, if replicated, would thereafter be easier to protect.7
2.7 The tourist authorities should also establish a like plan for their management of the site. If, for example, the legions of cruise boats were docked to the South of the new bridge, then the atmosphere of the antiquated village would be better preserved. If silence were to be demanded inside the tombs and museums, a greater respect for these institutions would follow. If guides used radios with closed circuit systems, or lectured outside the grounds of temples and museums before their groups visit the temples and museums, a more reverent atmosphere would be experienced.
The only wonder of the Seven
Wonders of the World that remains is the Pyramids of Giza. The site contains the Great
Pyramid of Khufu, the pyramid of Khafre, the pyramid of Menkaure, eight subsidiary
pyramids, and thousands of old kingdom tombs. The Great Sphinx also lies on the site in an
old kingdom quarry. It was carved out of the bedrock core that was left after the rock
around it was cut away to build the temples and tombs in the various pyramid complexes.8
The site of the Giza pyramids is also the only site in Egypt for which a site management plan was put into effect. This took place in 1988. Carrying out the plan proved to be difficult due to the sites many existing problems. The major problems of the site are the growth of adjacent urban villages, the Egyptian visitors which throng to the site during the National Holidays, and the tourist carrying camels and horses which, at the present time, have uninhibited use of the site. There are other tourist associated problems, and conservation problems.9
IV. Site ManagementThe site management of the Giza Plateau has been discussed in different articles. 10 Before 1988 a plan for "site management" had not, to my knowledge, been applied to any site in Egypt. Four phases were planned. The first phase was accomplished in one year. It proceeded smoothly despite the aforementioned hindrances. The plan received great political support which contributed to its success. An example of this success follows.
Site admission used to be handled in such a way that tourists who had not purchased an admission ticket could still wander around the plateau but were unable to enter the monuments. Tour companies were famous for bringing tourists to wander around without paying any fees. The site management plan called for an entrance gate which monitors the entrance of buses and cars, and provided a method of making sure all tourists who came onto the plateau purchased admission tickets. The decrease in foot traffic, and the increase in revenues was more than worth the cost and maintenance of the gate.
The strategy of the conservation program called for the closing of one pyramid yearly. During this year repairs, conservation efforts, and tourist safety devices would be applied the pyramid without tourist interruption. The pyramid of Khafre was closed first followed by the pyramid of Khufu. When the Great Pyramid was closed the news of its closing spread round the world. It was the first time that this pyramid had ever been closed.11 The third pyramid of Menkaure was closed on May 1, 1997 for about nine months. This closing was announced to the tourist companies and authorities beforehand. The subsidiary pyramids of Khufu were also restored during this time. The Sphinx restoration program consists of three phases. The third and last phase of this program will be finished in December 1997, but it is important to note that the conservation of the Sphinx is an ongoing process. It is an on going process and takes considerable dedication.
The second phase continued the conservation and restoration program. in other areas of the plateau. Thirty tombs were documented and restored every year. A plan for making the area East of the Great Pyramid accessible to tourists was included. More than eight architectural components lie neglected there. Restoring these sights will allow for more tourists; and therefore, an increase in revenue. Phase two also began major archaeological and conservation work around the third pyramid of Menkaure.
Phase three was geared toward site protection. Egyptian experts, as well as experts from UNESCO, designed a master plan for this purpose. This phase will include the following:
1. A ring road around the plateau which will limit the use of automobiles within the plateau and their resultant effects on the monuments.
2. Two cultural centers exhibiting educational programs for the tourists. One is to be located at the entrance to the plateau, and the other south of the third pyramid.
3. At a site south of the third pyramid stables are being built to house horses and camels. These noisy, dirty, and smelly creatures are currently stabled in front of the plateau near the Mena House Hotel. The current location is an eyesore, and contributes to the loss of the scared atmosphere of the plateau. Camels and horses should not be ridden within the pyramid area, but should be kept to the proposed "ring road" area.
4. A picnic area will be established for the visitors. This area would cut down on those who are not interested in the history and archaeology of the site, but instead merely wish to have a place to pass the time.
5. A conservation lab will be established for the
preservation of the artifacts. Antiquities offices could also be established. The
Archaeological Engineering Center, at Cairo University, is currently working on a master
Other important steps were taken. A training program for the young archaeologists, architects, draftsman, conservators, and other scholars was put into effect. It will allow these neophytes to participate in the ambitious program of site management once they begin their careers. The government also stepped in with a decree, made by then Governor of Giza Omar Abdoul Akher, to stop the urban housing sprawl outside of five kilometers of the Giza plateau.
The following achievements also occurred in 1996 to 1997:
- A master plan was established for the "Sphinx Square".
- A wall was built to separate the village houses from the North East side of the Sphinx. This wall encompasses many tourist facilities such as, toilets, first aid offices, olT&127;ces for on site Archaeologists, and Tourist Police.
- A parking lot was built away from the Giza Plateau. Automobiles are no longer allowed to park on the "Sphinx Square".
- Building is in progress for new horse and camel stables, along with the purposed picnic areas, South of the third pyramid. The estimated time of completion for these projects is November, 1997.
Other elements proposed in Phase III will hopefully be finished by 1998.
Phase IV concerns conservation and restoration of the Western and Eastern field of the tombs around the pyramid of Khufu. The Menkaure cemetery is also designation for re-excavation. The archaeologists who established the master plan of Giza did so ten years ago. Based on our experience with the Giza site management program new factors, unknown ten years ago, must be taken into consideration.
1. The many specialists involved in a site management program need to work as a team. For example master plans should be discussed with the tourist authorities, and alter agreements from all sides are reached, the media and other sources of tourists information should be asked to publicize those programs of conservation or restoration which may affect the tourists ability to visit any of the monuments.
2. Archaeological ruins should remain ruins! No major reconstruction should be done for any archaeological component. Other types of reconstruction can be accomplished through animation, artwork, films, and Imax films.
3. Architects designing new buildings should not compete with ancient architecture. Their architecture should be modest so that it blends with the background.
For example: no new Pharaonic architecture in a Pharaonic site. Copies of statues, obelisks, and pylon entrances confuse tourists. Most can not discern between copies and the originals, and are unhappy when they find out they were fooled.
4. Archaeologists must be in charge of site management of all sites. They are the only scholars who can discern the proper reasons for making changes within the sites. The decisions can not be made by artists, geologists, or architects. The approval of archaeologists, who are the specialists, should be obtained before any changes are made within the site.12
5. A general committee should be established for each site. This committee would review all strategies as well as the propriety of all funding.
6. Tourists facilities are essential. They should be clean, modern, and well maintained. However their design, function and location must take into account the preservation of the site. They should be built outside of the enclosure walls of the site, or even underground if at all possible. As important as tourism is, our heritage, which is the archaeological sites, is equally important. Preserving the sites should be the number one priority.13
It is important to know that scholars and experts are estimating a mere two hundred year life expectancy for the archaeological monuments of the world. I, as Director General of the Giza Plateau and Saqqara, and as a Conservationist Archaeologist, give the monuments of Egypt no more than another one hundred years of life. This is especially true for the Valley of the Kings.
Five hundred thirty four million tourists visited the archaeological sites around the world in 1995. It is estimated that in the year 2000 the number will climb to over six hundred sixty one million tourists. The majority of the visitors want to see ancient cultural sites,especially those in Egypt.
As stated at the last UNESCO conference, in Paris during 1996, "tourism may be the best and the worst of things". I believe that because there exists a great propensity for team work, among the personnel responsible for the archaeological sites, and the tourist authorities, a solution is within reach. "Site management", once it has been applied, will go far toward solving the problems of conservation, restoration, and tourism of the archaeological monuments of Egypt.
Notes1 H. Barre. "World Decade for Cultural Development" in "Proceedings of A Round Table; Culture, Tourism, Development, Crucial issues for the XXIst Century". (Parris, 26- 27 June 1996), pp. 5-9. 2 See Z. Hawass, "The Egyptian Monuments: Problems and Solutions", Journal of Law No. 3 (London: 1995).
3National Geographic finished an Imax film on Egypt. The film is narrated by Omar Sharif and it is the first Imax film ever made on the subject of Egypt. 4 The site in winter is wonderful.. I lived there in December, 1973 and Jan., Feb., 1974 as Inspector of Antiquities of the site. 5 See more description of the site in J. Baines, and Malek, J., Atlas of Ancient Egypt (Oxford; 1980), pp. 84-107. 6 see more description in J. Baines, and Malek, J., Atlas of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: 1980), pp 84-107. 7 A Swiss society, in cooperation with E. Hornung, and a tourist group in Egypt under El-Hamy E1-Zaiat were established to build copies of the tombs in the valley. This society has yet to succeed in convincing the Egyptian authorities of the validity of their project. For the problems of the sites in Luxor see Hawass, The Egyptian Monuments. 8 For a bibliography on Giza see: Z. Hawass. The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt, (Carneige Institute: 1990), Hawass, Pyramids in Ancient Egypt. Edited by D. Silverman (Duncan and Baird: 1997). Z. Hawass and M. Lehner "The Sphinx: Who Built it and Why?" Archaeology Magazine, September, October 1994. 9 Z. Hawass, "Touristic Management of the Giza Plateau" in Proceedings of a Round Table; Culture, Tourism, and Development, Crucial Issues for XXIst Century (Paris, 26- 27, June 1996). See also Hawass, "Master Plan for the Conservation of the Giza Plateau" (Getti Conservation Institute: 1997). 10 See all the discussion on the Giza problems, Hawass, "Master Plan for the Conservation of the Giza Plateau".
11For conservation on the great pyramid see the update by Z. Hawass in Petrie, Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh (Mysteries, Historian England: 1990) I still hold the belief that, since the pyramids were meant to be tombs, they should not be visited on the inside by tourists. New York Times (Sunday August 10,1997) I was quoted from a story written about closing the three pyramids, "The Magic of the Pyramids From Outside Not Inside". 12 It is important to train the senior archaeologists as to the new "site management" programs. These seniors can then train young archaeologists to take over and properly manage the site. 13 At the Giza plateau many tourists facilities were planned for in the site management program - as follows: