Experts deny patching up Ramses III statue with black building cement

Egyptian antiquities have been in safe hands for the past 10 years, say experts. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 13 June 2019

Experts deny patching up Ramses III statue with black building cement

  • Experts have slammed the criticism, saying the restoration work had been carried out according to internationally recognized scientific standards

CAIRO: Egyptian conservation officials have hit back at claims on social media that black building cement had been used to patch up a damaged statue of Pharaoh Ramses III.

A photo showing workers repairing the face of the ancient Egyptian king on a stone statue at his Habu mortuary temple near Luxor, went viral after being published on the internet, with some posters claiming that crude construction materials had been used to fill cracks.

But experts have slammed the criticism, saying the restoration work had been carried out according to internationally recognized scientific standards.

The Ramses III temple is one of the most important buildings in the Karnak antiquities complex and dates back to the 20th dynasty in Ancient Egypt.

Dr. Ghareeb Sonbol, head of the restoration and conservation department at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, said: “The photo on social media of (workers) repairing the face of Ramses III is true.

“But the restoration process was carried out completely scientifically according to international conventions of maintenance. The material used to restore the statue, which resembles cement, is used in the restoration of antiquities in a scientific way, not as some publishers had claimed that the image was black cement.”

Sonbol said that the Egyptian antiquities have been in safe hands for the past 10 years, with Egypt leading numerous successful restoration projects.

Dr. Mustafa Al-Saghir, director-general of Karnak Antiquities, told Arab News that the material used for the repairs was a sandstone and limestone mix that was a close match to the original color of the statue’s stone.

Workers were in the process of removing cement used for repair works in the 1920s and 1930s and replacing it with modern material that met international standards.

Officials came in for similar criticism last February with claims that concrete and iron had been used during restoration of the statue of Pharaoh Ramses II. But Ahmed Badr Al-Amari, vice director of Luxor Temple, said at the time that only authorized materials were used.

Ramses III was the most famous pharaoh of the 20th family dynasty in Ancient Egypt and also the last ruler of the modern state of Egypt (1183 BC - 1152 BC).

He was known by the Greeks as Rhampsinitus and followed his father Ramses II to embark on massive construction projects.

His temple was named after Habu city in Luxor. Some refer to Habu as a monk with the same name, who used the second courtyard of the temple as a church for Christians when Christianity came to Egypt.


Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

Updated 52 min 28 sec ago

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

AMMAN: Pundits and politicians appear to agree that the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, as well as the failed attack in Damascus against Akram Ajoury was committed to assuage domestic Israeli political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a corruption indictment and possibly about to lose power to opponent Benny Gantz, apparently acted in his own self-interest, disrupting political talks and potentially destabilizing Gantz’ support from the Arab Joint List.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Center, told Arab News the Israeli attack in Gaza had all but ended the possibility of the Joint List supporting any Israeli government.

“Before the attack, 10 out of the 13 elected members of the Knesset were on board with the idea of supporting, externally, a minority government. Now the number of those supporting this has been reduced, as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality are opposed to supporting any government,” he said.

Gantz, who apparently was briefed before the attack, has come out publicly in support of Israel’s actions, which killed over 20 Palestinians including women and children.

Michel Oun, Middle East professor at Haifa University, told Arab News that a major reason behind the Israeli attack was internal politics. “If we can use football terms, we were in the last minutes of the game, time was running out on Netanyahu, he had to do something,” Oun said, adding that the attack had ended any possibility of an Israeli minority government with the Arab Joint List supporting it.

“I was always skeptical about this issue even before the attacks on Gaza, because of the paternalistic and racist way Israelis were talking about it in which the very idea of having Arab members of the Knesset supporting a government, even from the outside, was seen as unacceptable and treasonous.”

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Labor Party, told Arab News that the way Netanyahu used the attack in Gaza was suspicious. 

“I saw the chief of staff and head of the secret service standing and talking about the necessity and opportunity that was provided to them. I believe that the Israeli civil service officials are telling the truth, although the attack was greatly exploited and abused politically. The very fact that Netanyahu had to bring these military officials to the press conference shows that half of Israel does not trust him and he had to have them confirm their position,” she said.

Pundits had opposing views as to who would benefit from the stretch of the cycle of attacks with Gaza. “Regardless of politics I hope that the violence ends as soon as possible,” Michaeli told Arab News.