It is so strange when past and present come together and you find yourself doing something you never expected to do, because of something that happened over a 100 years ago! In this particular case it is the tragedy that is now engulfing Egypt, which was the catalyst for me being asked to give a short talk about my great-grandmother’s excavations in West Aswan, in Horsham yesterday.
With the country in turmoil, few tourists are making their way to Egypt; a country which relies on the tourist industry. The population is now either angry, or desperate. Museums have been looted and artefacts stolen or destroyed. Tombs have been illegally excavated and emptied of anything of value.
The sadness is not just the loss of fascinating and unique objects, and all they can tell us about the past, but the Egyptians are destroying their own future. The tourists will not come back if there is nothing to see, and the magic that was Egypt has been destroyed.
The destruction of heritage is happening throughout Egypt. Western Aswan is no exception. The tombs that May and Billy excavated in 1901 and 1903/04, but which are now lost, (hopefully only temporarily – May was great at excavating and drawing plans of the individual tombs – even taking photos – but she never published a map as to where the tombs actually were!) could soon suffer the same fate. So it seemed right that I should do something to try and preserve the Egypt they loved!
And it was fun too – the Sussex Egyptian Society made me very welcome – and were polite enough to say they enjoyed my talk – so altogether a special day…!!!