Sphinx Avenue or Sphinx rubbish dumps??? The current status of the Sphinx Avenue, Luxor

The press release from the Ministry state of Antiquities and the announcements were made by Governor of Luxor in the past few weeks about the Grand opening of the Sphinx Avenue after restoration.

During the reign of Dr. Samir Farag (Former governor of Luxor) hundreds of families were forced to leave their homes in order to start the excavation work to retrieve the Sphinx Avenue and few dates were set for the Grand opening starting when Hosni Mubarak (Former President) was on a visit to Luxor in December 2009 and said that he will come in March for the opening and the newspapers and media sources spread the news and the work was going on almost 24 hours a day in 3 sectors of the avenue that was divided into 5 phases. When the former President had to fly to Germany for medical treatment around the same time he was supposed to visit Luxor so the work stopped or slow down big time as the need to finish for the show was not there. Also another problem arose which Dr. Mansour Boraik talked about in his lecture about the ongoing work at the Mummification museum in December 2009/January 2010, when he said that Telecom Egypt was asking for 7 million Egyptian pounds to move the cables so the SCA could commence their work on the Sphinx Avenue in that sector. At that time many people couldn’t understand or see any sense that Telecom Egypt asking for that money and the SCA as Dr. Mansour Boraik couldn’t afford to pay them while they are moving premises anyway and Telecom Egypt is a national company which 80 % of its share owned by the Egyptian government (Check here)so it seemed like the Egyptian government asking the Egyptian government for money to be able to continue working on an Egyptian project on Egyptian soil that would benefit the Egyptian tourism industry as it was announced by the Egyptian officials. Does it make sense? Anyway,

Few months later the work was going on again as the former Prime Minister was coming to Luxor then slowed down again then it was announced that the President will visit Luxor for the Grand Opening of the massive project with the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi and dignitaries from all over the world in February 2011 so of course work was on again till the recent turmoil in Egypt.
Lately the new governor of Luxor announced in a couple of occasions in May 2011 that the Sphinx Avenue will be opened in September then he said October without any referring to the Ministry of Antiquities that is actually responsible for the work, of course in co-operation with Luxor governorate but the technical work is the MSA responsibility. Well, it doesn’t matter who announce what but wait a minute …. In their press release, the MSA stated that the grand opening will be in October by the current Egyptian Prime Minister, Esam Sharaf. There is supposed to be Parliamentary elections in Egypt in September and the majority will be obligated to form a new government so the current Prime Minister might not be in office but someone would say this is just a technicality and we shouldn’t stop at it.
Since the work started on the Avenue and the sector behind Mubarak Library is the base where all officials go to stand there and see the fine work that has been done on the Avenue in that area and the new discovery of the Greco-Roman wine making station and take the photos for the media coverage. Is this why the president of the Sound and Light Company of Egypt stated that “The company will use a new, advanced type of lighting to focus on the avenue and additional archaeological discoveries, such as workshops and wine factories dating to the Greco-Roman period.”
We are not against any person here or the idea of promoting for Luxor and commencing more archaeological projects all over Egypt … But at least can the officials be reasonable and accurate in their announcements if there is a work plan with specific and defined objectives?
The other issue here is the status of the Sphinx Avenue as of Today. The pictures below and the video were taken only hours earlier will show the status of the Avenue and the non going work there.
Does this look like a project waiting for a Grand opening in 3 months time? Even so … how it was left to get to that state? Children ride on top on the Sphinx (unfortunately, there is no picture here to prove it) and people dumping their rubbish there. Could anyone think about how families who used to live for years in their homes there would feel now seeing a historical site of over 4000 years old and what used to be their home location used as a rubbish dump?  Where is the security?
All that work and expenses while other sites needs immediate intervention to move a road few meters to allow the excavation work to complete or so.
One of the examples about the conflict in the ideas between different parties involved in such a project when the former governor’s idea to solve the problem of how people would get from one side to the other of the avenue by planning for bridges over the avenue with a circular shape and eye of Horus in the middle, an official from the SCA said in a different occasion that it is a silly idea without referring to whom idea it was.
Where are the site management master plans? Would it have been better if there was a plan with exact date for the work from beginning? If there was any so what happened to it? Who did put those plans?
Why the complete comprehensive master plans like KV masterplan which were produced by experts like Dr. Kent Weeks and Theban Mapping project team(Check Here), not to be considered as a base with other master plans and put together after discussions between different teams to put a master plan by people who have hands- on projects in the area not to pay to a foreign company to come and make a plan of an area they know nothing about and with no consideration of the potential threats(archaeologically and socially).

Waiting to hear from you … please send us your comments and views

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One Comment

  1. This is truly sad. If they were going to move those people, then they at least need to finish the job, not allow it to turn into an avenue of trash!

  2. The dumping of garbage is a huge problem in Egypt, and it is no surprise that locals dumped rubbish in the sphinx avenue the minute surveillance lapsed.
    Tourists were always blamed for rubbish on the West Bank at Luxor but the sea of plastic bottles at the foot of the cliffs (and in other places)is created by the guard posts and other locals. Tourists often dispose of their rubbish properly in litter bins, only for it then to be tipped into a convenient pit or tomb. We returned once from visiting a site to find our driver had dumped his lunch box packaging at the side of the road. He was astonished when the guide(under duress)challenged him about it. Visitors to Egypt never fail to be astonished that the locals do not seem at all bothered that their country is covered in crap. Travel out in to the deep desert to areas of untouched pristine beauty, and you will find the Egyptian members of your party have found this a good opportunity to offload their rubbish, with no effort to bury or conceal it.
    There is plenty of spare labour in Egypt, and garbage collection, proper disposal (and, dare I say it, recycling) would be more productive employment for the hustlers and loafers that infest the corniche at Luxor, for instance. It seems a strange decision to floodlight the West Bank cliffs and the Sphinx Avenue when they are covered in rubbish!

  3. Good Report. I am sure in time Luxor will get this fixed up. I know this has been a major pain for Luxor residents but in the end it will be a good move. I am a great advocate of visiting Egypt so you can understand what it is like. You can't be an Egyptologist by sitting in an arm chair or a desk.
    Regarding garbage my pet peeve has been the plastic trash in the Nile. Once upon a time we thought it would be nice to sit along the cornice down by the nile. But the garbage in the water and the smell of diesel fuel put an end to that. Best place is a hotel balcony. Things look better from a distance.
    Good luck Luxor.

  4. Excellent article!

    The avenue of rams appears to have been ill conceived from the start with the chaotic form of bulldozer excavating.

    I will be looking forward to seeing the final archaeological report which I understand have to be submitted by all archaeological teams excavating in Egypt complete with photographs and drawings at every point during the excavation.

    Litter is a problem anywhere in the world and certainly a bigger problem in areas where sanitation facilities are lacking.

    The problem can only be helped out by 1. proper sanitation programs 2. educating the populace about how to use sanitation facilities 3. providing an incentive to them to use those facilities, such as recycling.

    I feel for all those who lost their homes in the uncovering of the avenue and myself in that situation may also show little respect for the place where the government evicted me and tore down my home.

  5. Dear blogger. Thank you for this information. Personally I think the digging up of the Sfinx Avenue is an urban disaster for the people living in Luxor. On the other hand it is interesting though to see how it used to be….And it used to be lined as well with shrubs. And I agree that it should not be lined with rubbish!
    I have seen people in Cairo scrubbing the city streets clean. This is a result of the revolution and it should be welcomed!! Can Luxor not follow this example? Or with so many young people unemployed it would be a great work project to clean Luxor up and I mean not only the tourist area's or the Sphinx Avenue. Do not despair and do not complain, but TAKE THE INITIATIVE AND START WORKING !

  6. I am from Canada and I visited Egypt in 2010. I was quite shocked to find such a beautiful country riddled with garbage. I can fully appreciate that Egypt is not a wealthy country with advanced sanitation systems, however this is still no reason for its citizens to dump their trash in all manner of public places. This does not benefit the citizens themselves or the tourist trade. On a cruise of the Nile, we witnessed the captain of our ship eat some yogurt and then dump the plastic container straight into the Nile.

    I visited some of the Sphinx Avenue and it looked like it would eventually be quite a stirring site between the two main temples in Luxor. I am very disappointed to hear that it is becoming just another unguarded trash-laden area.

  7. I agree that there needs to be a plan to handle garbage in all of Egypt. It was most noticeable everywhere we traveled. Do the people not have any pride about them to continue dumping their garbage? Job creation with decent wages could be the answer. Weren't the displaced citizens provided with homes?

  8. This is an interesting post and is something I have been disgusted by for a very long time.There has in my humble oppinion been a complete destruction of Luxor going on for at least 5 years much to my dismay and the taking away of many homes and businesses is very sad indeed.With millions of relics from Egypt stored in warehouses surely they have enough to last a lifetime

  9. Thank you for this honest appraisal. However, one of the last paragraphs seems to lack a verb or divisions into sentences and I cannot figure out what you are trying say:
    "Why the complete comprehensive master plans like KV masterplan which were produced by experts like Dr. Kent Weeks and Theban Mapping project team(Check Here), [VERB? MISSING] not to be considered as a base with other master plans and put together after discussions between different teams to put a master plan by people who have hands- on projects in the area [VERB MISSING?] not to pay to a foreign company to come and make a plan of an area they know nothing about and with no consideration of the potential threats (archaeologically and socially)."
    Can you fix this so that makes sense? What you have to say is very important and there should no potential for confusion on the part of those reading.
    Thank you.

  10. I saw a little girl going to the toilet at the top of the avenue of the sphinx by the road leading to the corniche and the ferry; ie in front of Luxor temple.

    I have noticed that since the latest govenors departure the rubbish situation has worsened drastically.

    Luxor is one of the most visited cities in Luxor yet the majority of the people have little respect for their city and certainly little inclination to keep their city nice. In contrast El Minya is well looked after and rarely visited!!

    Why do the Luxorians have so little regard for their city??

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