egypt launches restoration of menkaure’s pyramid


Online controversy erupted when Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Egypt’s secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, unveiled footage showcasing the ongoing restoration of the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest among Giza’s main pyramids. According to Waziri’s Facebook post, Egyptian-Japanese archaeologists are actively reinstalling numerous granite blocks and rewrapping the structure.


Multiple comments under the post have been sharing their doubts about the restoration, with many claiming that it is destroying the ancient monument, rather than preserving its beauty. ‘You have definitely completely misunderstood the concept of restoration if you chose to cover thousands of years of history with this granite,’ said one commenter. At the same time, archaeologists and experts from Egypt have also taken to social media to voice their opinions, and a majority of them express skepticism. 

why egypt's plan to restore one of its ancient pyramids with granite has sparked controversy
image by Przemyslaw ‘Blueshade’ Idzkiewicz via Wikimedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license



Dr. Mostafa Waziri’s posts meet Discontent and Debate


The Pyramid of Menkaure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is widely believed to be the burial tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure. It stands as the smallest among the three structures in the Giza Necropolis, initially reaching a height of 65.5 meters. According to Arab News, in January 2024, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities commenced the restoration of the famous pyramid, focusing on revitalizing its facade by repositioning granite blocks that have reportedly fallen from their original location but remain in situ. The project, led by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, is expected to span three years.

Dr. Waziri shared glimpses of the restoration progress on Facebook and Instagram, accompanied by a simple caption: ‘Project of the Century and reassembling the granite blocks of the Third Pyramid’. The footage depicts workers setting blocks of granite on the base of the pyramid. The response to these posts has been mixed, with some expressing admiration while others voicing their discontent.‘Please, do not do that,’ mentioned one commenter. ‘It is destroying an ancient monument, a legacy for all humanity, not only today’s country of Egypt. Please respect the past. Do not make Disneyland from ancient legacy.’ Meanwhile, another Facebook user said: ‘Hiding the real value of the pyramids from the eyes, I think is the biggest mistake ever made. Personally, I would not like to visit an ancient site covered with modern technology.’ 


video via Dr. Mostafa Waziry



archaeologists and experts raise concerns

Egyptian archaeologist and heritage professional Monica Hanna, is one of the experts who voiced her discontent with the restoration project.‘There is no proof that there are fallen blocks. Other blocks were quarried in from the medieval period and reused in other monuments,’ she explains in a Facebook post. ‘We cannot continue the work the Ancient Egyptians left, that would destroy the authenticity of the monument and would get it delisted from the Word Heritage List.’ 

Another prominent voice in Egyptology, Salima Ikram, also weighed in on the project via social media,sparking further debate. ‘Should anastylosis be carried out? This is a question that has vexed conservators, scholars, and the public. Perhaps yes to anastylosis, but no to any additional new blocks?’ she mentioned. ‘Ideas about restoration and conservation change a great deal, and what was thought to be great when it was done is often criticized 10 years later. It is a fine line to walk. It is worth remembering that many ancient Egyptian monuments were restored even in antiquity.’ 

However, dissenting voices emerged in the comments section, expressing reservations about the project. One commenter raised questions about the origin of the displaced blocks:‘Still more reasons not to do this: We don’t know why the blocks are there. Did they fall in an earthquake? Were they quarried and left, and if so when? Were they just left when the original work on the pyramid was abandoned? Was it a combination of some or all of these? Clearly careful archeological work should be done before any ‘restoration’ is attempted to answer these questions.’ Another commenter echoed similar concerns, critiquing the current justification for the project. ‘At the moment, the only justification is that the pyramid will be more photogenic for tourists…’

In response to the growing controversy, the Ministry of Antiquities took action, as reported by news outlet Al-Manassa. They decided to halt all work on the Menkaure Pyramid until a committee of specialists could assess the feasibility of the project and determine the most appropriate approach moving forward.

why egypt's plan to restore one of its ancient pyramids with granite has sparked controversy
image by Shady Hassan via Unsplash