An Egyptian renovation that will see a pyramid clad in granite blocks has been likened to ‘straightening the Tower of Pisa’ by experts.
Work at Egypt’s Menkaure pyramid at Giza shown in a video of the renovation has triggered a wave of criticism, with one expert decrying its ‘absurdity’.
Mostafa Waziri, the head of Egypt‘s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has in contrast dubbed it ‘the project of the century’.
In a video posted on Facebook, Waziri showed workers setting crude and chunky blocks of granite on the base of the pyramid, which sits besides the sphinx.
As workers toil beside the juxtaposing grey and golden blocks, Waziri gestures as he informs viewers about the process.
Under the video, some commentators reacted with sarcasm.
‘When will the project to straighten the Tower of Pisa be planned?’ asked one.
‘Rather than tiles, why not wallpaper the pyramids?’ said another.
Others reacted more angrily with Egyptologist Monica Hanna writing: ‘Impossible!’
‘The only thing missing was to add tiling to the pyramid of Menkaure! When are we going to stop the absurdity in the management of Egyptian heritage?’ she asked.
‘All international principles on renovations prohibit such interventions,’ Hanna added, calling on all archaeologists to ‘mobilise immediately’.
When originally built, the pyramid was encased in granite, but over time lost part of its covering. The renovation aims to restore the structure’s original style by reconstructing the granite layer.
Work is slated to last three years and will be ‘Egypt’s gift to the world in the 21st century’, said Waziri, who heads the Egyptian-Japanese mission in charge of the project.
The issue of heritage preservation in Egypt – which derives 10 per cent of its gross domestic product from tourism – is often the subject of heated debate.
Recent destruction of entire areas of Cairo’s historic area led to powerful mobilisations by civil society, which is largely banned from political activity and now concentrates the bulk of its fight with the government on urban planning and heritage issues.