Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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EGYPT: Save the Sphinx

November 15, 2007 | 10:30 am

Stark and red, the letters bleed through the website as if promoting a horror film from the 1930s: "Save The Sphinx." But there are no desert villains, no howling sandstorms, no lurking, murderous mummies. Bassam El Shammaa, an Egyptologist who types in breathless passion punctuated by CAPITAL letters and !!!!!!!, reports on his website that underground water levels among other things are endangering the Sphinx.

"While I was walking around the Sphinx area on Saturday, September, 22nd, 2007," he writes, "I was shocked by what I saw there! As you can see below in the pictures I took, the UNDERGROUND WATER, ELECTRICITY CABLES, LOUDSPEAKERS, SALTY STAGNANT WATER, CABLES, HUMAN FEET SHACKING THE MONUMENTS, GARBAGE and finally OLD AGE all definitely lead to destruction!!   

The Egyptian press reported that the water problem is being studied but that it is not as alarming as Shammaa's capital letters suggest. It could be a change in the groundwater table, or overflow from irrigation. Shammaa would rather be BOLD now than sorry later. He told the Daily News Egypt: "I am driven by a sense of responsibility."

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo