An international conference opened at the Hilton Hotel in Cairo yesterday (Saturday) with the object of rescuing the flooded temples of Philae, near the Aswan High Dam.
An international conference opened at the Hilton Hotel in Cairo yesterday (Saturday) with the object of rescuing the flooded temples of Philae, near the Aswan High Dam. The conference was chaired by M. Rene Maheu, Director-General of UNESCO.
The World Food programme and 26 nations were represented at the conference, ranging from Algeria to Yugoslavia.
The effort to save the Philae temples is reminiscent of the successful attempt in recent years to save the Abu Simbel temples from the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam. But the situation at Philae is a little different.
Philae i an island in the Nile lying about midway between the new High Dam and the original Aswan Dam, built in 1902 and heightened in 1912 and again in 1933. The Aswan reservoir had flooded the Philae temples for up to nine months of the year for many years.
At first it was thought flooding would have little effect on the temples, which are built of granite, but by mid-century they were showing signs of gradual disintegration.
The temples on Philae date back to King Nectanebo I, who lived 2,300 years ago. They were rebuilt in Greek and Roman times and were a centre for the worship of the major Egyptian gods, Isis, Osiris and Horus.
The United Arab Republic Government decided in May 1968 to remove the group of beautiful buildings and re-erect them on a neighbouring island. It pledged itself to provide one third of the 13 million dollar cost of the project.
So far other nations and the World Food Programme have raised four million dollars. The conference marks the opening in January of a 58-months campaign to raise the balance required to save the temples.
Countries represented at the conference were: Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Cambodia, Cuba, Cyprus, France, West Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Netherlands, Rumania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Yugoslavia.