The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities approved the demolition of a Hellenistic-era archaeological site in Alexandria, which was carried out last week. According to Alexandria Antiquities Director Mostafa Roshdy, the decision came as a response to the complaints of the neighborhood residents who said that the excavations threatened the architectural stability of the surrounding buildings.
Discovered in 2013, the site of Al-Abd theater is located in a Camp Shizar, a residential neighborhood a block away from the corniche, the coastal road along the Mediterranean. The site dates back to the Roman and Hellenistic eras, circa 323 BC.
The flattening of the archaeological site was carried out despite reports filed by several archaeologists to public prosecutor Hesham Barakat.
“The site includes unique artifacts that exist nowhere else in the Mediterranean,” Monica Hanna, an archaeological researcher, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“The engineering committee formed by Youssef Khalifa, former head of the Egyptian antiquities sector, said in a report that the site includes duplicate artifacts that the Antiquities Ministry already has,” Hanna said, adding: "Demolition took place secretly and without informing archaeologists who performed the excavations three years ago.”
According to Egypt's Heritage Task Force, a Facebook page that has been campaigning against the demolition, the Antiquities Ministry was leasing the land to a contractor for construction purposes.
Before the destruction of the site, archaeologists managed to collect some of the artifacts for safekeeping in a museum.
"So we decided to evacuate the site, take some of the artifacts that can be moved to the museum and leave the rest that are cracked and are difficult to restore,” Mohamed Mostafa, from the Antiquities Ministry, told the Youm7 earlier this month.
Earlier in March, several archaeological sites in Upper Egypt were successful at unearthing priceless tombs; the news which was passed around in glee. But it certainly makes us pause to wonder if Egyptian artifacts are in fact safe in their own land.