Archaeology studies the remains of the past and human history. But what happens when the present encroaches on the past and its remnants? We have been looking into tombs and Egypt’s necropolis and this recent article reveals the illegal expansion of modern-day cemeteries into the city of the dead. Archaeologists and antiquities experts are shocked by this intrusive behavior in Dahshour, Egypt. It surprises me that the locals are doing this to their own history and heritage, and they, “say they won’t go unless they are given a new site nearby and compensation for what they have already built.” I understand they need a place to put their beloved dead, but destroying ancient tombs for this purpose is hard for me to grasp as an Anthropology major. Another present day problem affecting the disturbance of the dead is the government and their inability to stop this invasion because their system is still in turmoil from the uprising a couple of years ago. The government has a hard time agreeing on terms with the local villagers when they have so much on their hands from the recent revolution. So antiquities experts tried another route through the local military and police enforcement agencies. And they won’t get themselves involved and, “past requests for orders to remove illegal construction at archaeological sites had been ignored,” and Mohammed Younes, head of antiquities for Dahshour, believes there is no deterrence for this increasing behavior.
The present directly affects the past and its remains and this can affect all the information we can take from the necropolis and its context. And from what we have learned in one of the first few days of class, context is the most important part of archaeology. Once something is taken out of the place it was found or disturbed by the people living around there it loses its context. Another issue that is increasing and disturbing the necropolis is the act of looting. Thieves would come at night to dig and even assaults have occurred between the guards protecting the sacred tombs and the thieves. The many present influences on what is left of the past endangers archaeological context and the history of past civilizations. The present effect on past antiquities is negative and disrespectful for the country and history of Egypt. I believe there needs to be more focus on the protection and preservation of historical areas such as Dashour.