|(C) SAFE. Used with permission.|
Now a 21st century Egyptologist has been honored for preserving the past. She is archaeologist Dr. Monica Hanna, who actively searches the desert sands and the Nile banks to defend Egypt's rich heritage against looters and vandals.
Dr. Hanna has replaced Khaemwaset's chariot, papyrus roll, and royal title with a car, a Twitter account, and true grit. She uses modern-day tools along with old-fashioned courage to travel to heritage sites under attack and tweet for help. Dr. Hanna now has close to 30,000 followers on Twitter's social networking site. The internet-savvy archaeologist also the founded the online community known as Egypt’s Heritage Task Force.
Dr. Hanna chronicled artifact thefts near the Black Pyramid, facilitated by diggers who greatly expanded the number of illegal looter's pits during the first 30 days after the revolution.
The area of Dashur--a royal necropolis that is home to the Black Pyramid, the Red Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and many other important monuments--witnessed an astounding 300% increase in thieves' holes. Dr. Hanna presented satellite images of the pockmarked landscape, which has swelled across the archaeologically rich desert in recent years.
The Egyptologist lamented about the destruction caused by bulldozers that "rummage like cats in a trash bin," irretrievably shredding archaeological material. Blasting too has wiped out evidence of the past, documented by photographs depicting the devastating aftermath caused by freshly exploded dynamite.
Dr. Hanna concluded her remarks to the SAFE audience by offering several suggestions about how Americans could help. She encouraged support for academics who publish scholarly articles documenting archaeological site looting. She emphasized that the illegal sale of artifacts must be reported to authorities. She also expressed strong support for the adoption of import barriers to block pillaged and smuggled Egyptian artifacts from entering the United States.
There will be more heritage to protect as the resilient Dr. Hanna returns home to Egypt. To track her ongoing preservation efforts and to learn more about cultural heritage under threat, readers can follow the modern-day Khaemwaset's Twitter feed here.