Experiences of the World Monuments Fund in Balancing Interpretation with Preservation
Paper submitted by Mark A. Weber, World Monuments Fund
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 – firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: 646-424-9594 – Fax: 646-424-9593
eeneirwill beField projects at Luxor and Karnak temples soon followed. WMFcollaborated with the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute andits Epigraphic Survey team to develop a conservation approach atLuxor Temple, where thousands of misplaced sandstonefragments are lifted off the temple’s damp grounds and moved to
specially designed platforms -
where they have bsorted, inventoried and grouped according to iconography
TheEpigraphic Survey is also working to conserve the fragments withthe ultimate goal of reassembling half of them back into theiroriginal wall positions in Luxor Temple and, as recently discovered, the other half back to thoriginal positions at Karnak Temple over 3 kilometers away. The remaining stone materialpresented in an open-air museum adjacent to Luxor Temple.Efforts to address these threats are supported by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)and the Ministry of Culture and Agriculture, as well as many foreign governments, including theUnited States. Over the past eight years, a battery of interventions have been carefully studiedand implemented on various scales, from the introduction of damp-proof layers to protectfragments awaiting conservation, to the bold holistic approach now taken up by the SupremeCouncil of Antiquities of installing water management systems around the Luxor and Karnaktemples.
Valley of the King’s Master Plan and Signage Project: A Tool for Site Management,Conservation, and Presentation.
All of the major historical sites in the Luxor region are facinga host
of problems: flash floods, rising water tables,encroaching agricultural practices and development,geological instability, environmental changes and vandalism.But perhaps the greatest threat to one of the most visitedarchaeological sites in the world, the Valley of the Kings onthe West Bank of the Nile, is posed by rapidly increasingnumbers of visitors, who inflict considerable damage to thepainted wall surfaces.In the mid-1960’s, at the time the Aswan Dam was being built, only a few dozen visitors trekkedup to see the elaborately decorated tombs of nearly all of Egypt’s New Kingdom Pharaohs,including Tutankhamen, Seti I and Ramses II. By 2004, the Theban Necropolis wasoverburdened by an average of 7,000 tourists a day visiting approximately 14 tombs currentlyopen to visitors, 11 at a time and now on a rotating schedule. The other 48 tombs in the valley areeither closed due to poor conditions or for restoration efforts. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism isbracing itself for an estimated 12,000 visitors daily by 2017.The pressures from mass tourism have already reached acritical level and taken its toll on the artifacts the crowds areflocking to see. In the past, the numbers of visitors and themanner
in which the tomb tours were given was largelyunchecked, if not downright chaotic. Lecturing took placeinside the tombs, resulting in a noisy, crowded event that oftenled to fabric damage and the occasional fist fight; hardly apleasant visitor experience in what should be a respectful,serene and contemplative environment.