The UK has botched Cleopatra's Needle, and Zahi Hawass isn't having it.
Celebrated Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass calls out the mistreatment of Cleopatra’s Needle obelisk and calls for its return to Egypt.
Cleopatra’s Needle was originally made for Pharaoh Thotmes III 1460 BC. It’s one of two obelisks Khedive Muhammad Ali Pasha gifted to the UK and US in 1819, one placed in New York’s Central Park and its British counterpart in an unpopular part of the Victoria embankment.
2019 marks a century and a half since the Khedive’s gift. It was given to pay tribute to Lord Nelson and Sir Ralph Abercrombie’s triumph against the French in the battles of the Nile and Alexandria during the Napoleonic Wars.
Although the needle was restored in 2005, Dr.Hawass says it has since been forgotten.“I don’t believe, as an archaeologist, that any squares in Egypt or outside of Egypt should have pharaonic statues or obelisks, it’s bad,” Dr.Hawass told The National. “The location should be in a temple or museum, not in a square.
“But if it is in a square, it should be treated nicely. I went to see it yesterday and I was ashamed.”
Along with the much needed restoring the obelisk, Dr.Hawass also calls for the government to initiate a site management program in order for the obelisk to be viewed by the public for the bicentennial celebration.
“If they don’t care, they should return it,” states Dr.Hawass to The National.
Despite this, Dr.Hawass says he believes the English people “deserve” to have it and views returning it as a last resort.
He continues, “The English, they care about the pharaohs, they care about Ancient Egypt, I can see that from my lectures and the emails I receive,”
“I am excavating now in the Valley of the Kings and I see many English tourists and I see the love in their hearts.”
He has not yet contacted UK officials about the matter, but says he plans on issuing a report to the current minister of antiquities in Egypt with his concerns for the beloved monument.
The UK government has not yet commented.