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Egypt Is Covering One of Its Ancient Pyramids in Granite and It’s Causing Serious Outrage

Photo Credit: Ahmed Gomaa / Xinhua / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ahmed Gomaa / Xinhua / Getty Images

News of a new restoration project in Egypt has caused a divide among experts and the public. The Pyramid of Menkaure, which is believed to have been built over 4,000 years ago and designed as the final resting place for the pharaoh Menkaure, is getting a new look. Originally built from limestone, granite, and mortar, the project intends to cover the pyramid in granite, a move that is upsetting a lot of people.

The project will cover the pyramid in granite

Granite stones in front of a pyramid base.
Detail of the base of the Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza Necropolis. (Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images)

In a video posted to Facebook, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, announced the project to cover the Pyramid of Menkaure in granite, which appears to already be underway. Waziri stands in front of the pyramid, which is the smallest of the trio of pyramids at Giza, Cairo, and behind him are layers of grey blocks that are clearly visible.

The project, which Waziri is calling “Egypt’s gift to the world,” is intended to return the 213-foot pyramid back to its original state to allow visitors to experience the site the way it would have been when it was first constructed almost 5,000 years ago. It is expected to take three years to complete and will be achieved with the help of Japanese partners.

Heritage experts debate Egyptian heritage mismanagement

People walking a ramp to the side of a pyramid.
Visitors pose for a picture by the base of the Pyramid of Menkaure. (Photo Credit: KHALED DESOUKI / AFP / Getty Images)

While the endeavor is being described as the “project of the century” by local archaeologists, the reactions of other heritage and Egyptologist experts are less welcoming. Most prominently, it is being criticized by many who believe the best course of action is to just leave the pyramid in its original state. “When are we going to stop the absurdity in the management of Egyptian heritage?” questioned Egyptologist Monica Hanna.

“Interfering with the nature of the monument can cause visible problems and major damage,” she explained, insisting that the project goes against all principles of conservation. Additionally, she believes that despite the project’s Japanese partners having access to the right technology, they are lacking in the archaeological expertise needed to conserve the state of the pyramid.

Director of Antiquities at the Biblioteca Alexandrina, Hussein Bassir, said that this project must be approached with the utmost caution and should only continue after considering all of the risks involved. Alternatively, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo, Salima Ikram, said that a project like this could be completed “as long as the stones used are the ones found around it, and not adding new ones that do not belong to the pyramid.” However, it is not clear if this is part of the plan.

People are posting their outrage on social media

The Pyramid of Menkaure.
Tourists visit the Pyramid of Menkaure in Giza, Egypt, Jan 31, 2024. (Photo Credit: Ahmed Gomaa / Xinhua / Getty Images)

While experts in the field are torn on the project, many have turned to social media after discovering the news to give their own opinions on the matter. The majority of comments are against the project, with people posting things like, “When will the project to straighten the Tower of Pisa be planned?” and “Rather than tiles, why not wallpaper the pyramids?”

One man wrote, “It is destroying an ancient monument, legacy for all humanity, not only the today’s country of Egypt. Please respect the past, do not make Disneyland from ancient legacy. These monuments not only for people who want to make nice selfie photo.”

Read more: 4,400-Year-Old Lost Rooms Have Been Discovered In Ancient Egyptian Sahura Pyramid

The negative response of experts and the public has caused Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities to call for a pause of the project to reexamine its overall feasibility.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!