Renowned Egyptian Archaeologist Zahi Hawass Calls for Defying Terrorists to Protect Archaeological Heritage during Visit to Bulgaria

World-famous archaeologist and egyptologist Zahi Hawass during his visit in Sofia for the 90th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Egypt. Photo: BGNES

World-famous archaeologist and egyptologist Zahi Hawass during his visit in Sofia for the 90th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Egypt. Photo: BGNES

During a visit in Bulgaria world-famous Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass has called for defying the radical Islamic terrorists in the Middle East in order to protect the archaeological heritage of Ancient Egypt and the other ancient civilizations that existed in the region.

Hawass, who has been promoting archaeology, egyptology, and the protection of the priceless archaeological heritage of Ancient Egypt, has arrived in Sofia as part of the events for the 90th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Egypt.

His main message has focused on the different ways of defying the Islamic State (Daesh), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other radical Islamist groups for the sake of proserving the archaeological sites and artifacts that they might be after.

“It is extremely important today for the entire world that archaeologists and historians working in Syria, Iraq, and Libya be trained in order to manage to hide successfully those archaeological sites and artifacts that the fighters from Daesh are so eagerly looking for,” Hawass has stated in the Bulgarian capital, as cited by BGNES.

“We must train the curators how to hide the important items. For example, at an archaeological site, a 5-meter-deep square pit can be dug up, and all items can be hidden in it. That way they will be preserved,” he adds.

The renowned archaeologist, who is said to be the most famous Egyptologist in the world today, has declared that Egypt is completely safe for visitors, and that all archaeological sites and all hotels where foreign tourists stay are under guard.

“When people leave Egypt, they have tears in their eyes. That is because they are very inspired by the beauty and magic of our country, by the things they can’t find anywhere else in the world,” he says.

Hawass has encouraged the Bulgarian and other international tourists to keep visit Egypt in order to defy the terrorists.

“If you stop coming to Egypt, you are technically inviting the terrorists to continue doing what they’ve been doing because when there are no tourist visits we won’t be able to afford to keep up the restoration of our archaeological sites. All restoration activities depend on the fees the tourists pay. So tourism and tourist visits are important not just for our economy but also for the restoration of the monuments which belong not only to Egypt but to the entire world. If the tourists stop coming to Egypt, they will encouragr the terrorists to continue their attacks and vandalism, elaborates the Egyptian archaeologist.

He stresses that the fighters of the Islamic State has destroyed most archaeological sites in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, including by bulldozing monuments that have never been researched. They have also been seizing artifacts from museums, and selling them to smugglers.

“With this money they are buying weapons in order to kill us,” Hawass states regarding the terrorist groups.

At the same time, however, he is certain about the stability of Egypt, and that there is no threat on part of radical Islamists for the Pyramids, while also comparing the impact that the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have had on the archaeological heritage.

“We will never allow anyone to lay their hands on the Pyramids! However, what the Muslim Brotherhood did to our cultural heritage was a crime. They destroyed completely an entire museum, with humankind losing 1,500 artifacts as a result, they burned down two ancient churches, and destroyed the Islamic Museum in Cairo,” Hawass explains.

“However, if we compare what we went through with what the Islamic State has done in Iraq, we can say we’ve had it much better. From [Iraq] the terrorists exported 15,000 artifacts,” he adds.