Target: Egyptian archeologist, Dr. Monica Hanna
Goal: Applaud efforts to protect Egypt’s ancient and historical sites from looters
For centuries, the ancient tombs of Egypt have been susceptible to the greed of explorers, archeologists and thieves who have ripped apart historical sites in search of valuable, ancient artifacts including priceless pieces of jewelry. But after the headline-making Egyptian revolution in 2011, the number of looters destroying these tombs has increased exponentially. Many of these sites have never been fully studied or documented by archeologists, yet night after night, looters return to pull apart mummified human remains in search of artifacts they can then sell to locals and foreign collectors alike. Archeologist Dr. Monica Hanna describes these looted burial grounds as “macabre,” where one can see “dogs playing with human bones [and] children scavenging for pottery and painted sarcophagi.”
Hanna, who first became interested in ancient Egyptian history at the age of 14, is a leader in exposing the unchecked looting of some of Egypt’s most historically valuable sites. She spends her time traveling to ravaged burial grounds and taking pictures of the destruction, often bringing along reporters to witness the looting. She has also appeared on Egyptian television, “debating government officials,” and exposing the rampant crime at great personal risk. She has received physical threats from gun-toting men at looted sites, phone calls questioning her motives, and the warnings of government officials that she is “bothering really big people.” Her desire to expose the looting of these sites is also a potential threat to her career. Hanna has stated that she “might not get future permits to work on archaeological sites from the antiquities ministry.” However, she goes on to assert that, to her, this is a matter of “ethics versus career,” and she simply wishes to “do [her] best to protect [Egypt’s] heritage.”
Hanna has begun working with three separate groups to oversee and protect archeological sites. In addition, she has helped create a website where people can anonymously report instances of looting or “damaged antiquities.” Hanna’s work to protect Egypt’s historical sites is dangerous, but important. She reaffirms her commitment, stating, “if we Egyptians don’t protect our heritage, who will?”
Thank Dr. Monica Hanna for her fearless efforts to protect Egypt’s most historically valuable sites.
Dear Dr. Monica Hanna,
The ancient burial tombs of Egypt are some of the most historically important sites, not only in the country, but also in the world. They provide an intrinsic value that cannot be measured. Though these sites have always been subjected to greed and looting, the damage is even more acute in the wake of the 2011 revolution.
Your work to protect and preserve these ancient archeological sites is incredibly admirable. Not only have you risked your career, but also your own personal safety in order to ensure that Egypt’s heritage is preserved.
Thank you for being a leader in exposing the rampant looting of Egypt’s ancient sites. Your work is inspiring and historical in its own right, and sets a precedent for all those who care about protecting ancient cultures to follow.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jeff Dahl via Wikimedia