Conference October 14th, 2010
The ISSEMM Project,Institutional Support to Supreme Council of Antiquities for Environmental Monitoring and Management of the Cultural Heritage Sites: applications to Fayoum Oases and North Saqqara Necropolis, had his official start up in 2005 with training course and general organization; the on sites activities started in January 2009.
This project is acting withinn the framework of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program Phase II, which is one of the international channels through which the Government of Egypt implements policies and actions to support and enhance cultural and environmental national heritage.
The Project is entirely funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Directorate General for the Development Cooperation, which grant has been up to 3.500.000 euro.
The ISSEMM Project is directed by His Excellency, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, whereas the Scientific Committee is chaired by Prof. Edda Bresciani, Accademica dei Lincei, and Prof. Ali Radwan. The Scientific Committee is supported by a Technical Direction composed by an Egyptian – Italian team of Technical Managers. The University of Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico, has been appointed with the task of technical and scientific assistance to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which is the Implementing Agency of the project. UNDP support the program under administrative view point
The ISSEMM project aims to improve the management of archaeological sites in Egypt and its efforts have been applied on the case studies of North Saqqara Necropolis and Fayum Oasis.
Activities in North Saqqara
The project has implemented the monitoring system started during the years 2000-2002 in the framework of the “Enhancement of the Organisation and Capabilities to Preserve the Cultural Heritage of Egypt – Risk Map for North Saqqara site”, also known as Risk Map of North Saqqara (RMNS), that has given the origin to the current project of Phase II. In the present phase, 15 tombs have been included in the environmental monitoring system. The system monitorizes the variations of the essential parameters related to the wall paintings conservation, which are: temperature, relative humidity, CO2 . It is an instrument that will allow the Site Direction to manage the site respecting flexibility and safety requirements. The activities included the technical support to SCA personnel, through training courses, that have been carried out in 2005-2006.
Activities in Fayum
The Project has aimed to experience through this pilot project to create the first archaeological park, connected to a protected area, whereas both sites deserve appropriate conservation and enhancement methodologies and approaches. To physically connect Madinet Madi archaeological site to Wadi El Rayan Protected Area a 27 km long unpaved track has been realized. The route of such track respects the landscape and it enhances its panoramic characteristics.
Thanks to the Institutional Dialogue Process activated among the involved institutions: Italian Cooperation, UNDP Egypt, EEAA, Fayum Governorate and SCA it has been possible to fulfill this important goal.
The project investigated the environmental and cultural assets in Fayum Governorate through the analysis on a territorial scale elaborated through a Geographical Information System. The task of this geo-database is the reproduction of the general framework of the oasis by thematic layers that is the base for the elaboration of instruments such masterplans drawn up to enhance local resources and foster sustainable development. The G.I.S includes touristic routes in Fayum, linking natural areas and archaeological sites, in particular the new desert track realized by the ISSEMM Project.
The activities in Madinet Madi archaeological site have been aimed to the opening of the site to the public and have consisted in sand removal, archaeological survey, monuments consolidation and restoration, visiting path, and as well as the Visitor Centre and eco lodge realization.
The numbers of Madinet Madi Archaeological Site:
The sand removal activity has been carried out on a surface of 420 m of length and 20 m of width, through an average depth of 4 m. The total volume of removed sand has been of 35.000 cm.
1.000.000 mud bricks have been used, in order to consolidate and restore mud brick monuments.
More than 180 workers, from the local communities, have been employed for the sand removal activity, whereas 90 restorers, specialized personnel of Supreme Council of Antiquities, worked one year, within the ISSEMM Project to create the Madinet Madi Archaeological Park.
The monuments of the archaeiiological Park
The ruins of Medinet Madi contain a considerable amount of monuments and the only worship temple of the Middle Kingdom – with texts and engraved scenes – still remaining in Egypt, discovered by the Milanese Achille Vogliano (1935 – 1939). The history of Medinet Madi starts in the Middle Kingdom (beginning of the II millennium BC) with the foundation (within an agricultural project in the Fayoum region) of a village called Dja, and the construction of a temple by Amenemaht III and Amenemaht IV dedicated to the cobra goddess Renenutet and the crocodile god “Sobek of Scedet” – patron of the entire region and its capital Scedet –”Horus who resides in Scedet”. During the Ptolemaic period, Dja – now called Narmouthis, a Greek name meaning “the city of Renenutet-Hermouthis” – and its temple flourished, and more monuments were built North and South of the 12th dynasty’s temple. Achille Vogliano’s discovery of the Amenemhats’ temple (Temple A) and of the Greek-Roman additions
Starting from the IV-V century,Medinet Madi-Narmouthis saw intense Coptic settlement with the construction of churches; the Arabs called it Medinet Madi “the city of the past”, and this is the name that still today identifies this archaeological area.
The exploration in Medinet Madi has been carried out by the University of Pisa since 1978,in Kom Mai, after in Medinet Madi where on the southern or Coptic area has identified ten churches (V-VI century) important in the history of Fayoum’s ecclesiastical architecture.
The researches of the archaeological campaigns between 1997 and 2004 (in collaboration with the Universityof Messina – Chair of Papyrology) brought to light a new ptolemaic temple (Temple C) dedicated to the worship of two crocodiles; in a structure joined to the temple, an integral, barrel-vaulted structure for the incubation of crocodiles’ eggs.
Thanks to the contribution from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy-Egypt 2004, the Pisa University mission has also seen to the rescue of the blocks with the four Greek hymns to Isis, their restoration and placement in the Museum of Karanis.
A methodical topographical survey, a photo-interpretation of the site and geophysical exploration have contributed, in recent years, to an understanding of the urban tissue of the ancient village, in its chronological stratification, until the Late Byzantine Age .
In 2007 a very important discovery was made: the powerful castrum Narmutheos, of Diocletian period .
In 2008 the second phase of the Italian-Egyptian cooperation programme started, the ISSEMM project. The archaeological results of the sand removal of the sacred area are very important, the whole dromos South-North is now of 230 m., from the original access with sacrifices alatar, four statues of lions and one of lioness (inique, without parallels), new dedicace greek inscriptions datated to the year 116 B.C.
The whole new facies of Medinet Madi-Narmouthis is someting inique in the frame till now known of the architecture of temples not only in Fayum but we can say in all Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass SCA Secretary General
Prof. Edda Bresciani Scientific Director
Prof. Ali Radwan Scientific Director
Arch. Antonio Giammarusti Technical Director, Co-Mager
Mr. Hisham El Leithy Technical Director, Co-Mager
Prof. Feisal Esmael National Co-Manager
Arch. Angela De Vita International Co-Manager
Arch. Mahmoud Farouk Mohamadain Technical co-manager assistant
Arch. Francesca Veronica Rubattu Landscaping designer
Mr. Ahmed Abd El Aal Hassan General Manager of Fayoum Inspectorate
Dr. Roberto Buongarzone Egyptologist
Machmoud Ibrahim Egyptologist
Mr. Said M. Mostafa SCA Inspector
Mr. Sayed A. M. Shouip SCA Inspector
Xxxxxxxxxxx GIS expert
Dr. Emanuele Brienza archeomatic expert and topographer
Mr. Giovanni Caratelli Surveyor
Mrs. Cinzia Filippone Surveyor and muselogist
Mr. Mohie Abd Alhamed Topographer
Mr. Saber Atia Dwib SCA Inspector
Mr. Gamal Abdel Maguid Mahgoub Architect Restorer
Mr. Waad Allah M. Abu el Ella Architect Restorer
Mr. Elsayed A. M. El Shahat Supervisor of Restoration
Mr. Mohamed S. M. Salem General Director of Restoration
Mr. Abdelaleem M. A. Megeed chief Engineer of Fayoum Inspectorate
Mr. Hussain A. M. El Kader Restorer
Mr. Amgad A. Elsalam Restorer
Mr.Zidan A. Abdel Samei Restorer
Mr. Elsayed S. R. Ahmed Restorer
Mr. Gamal E. A. Elsalam Restorer
Mr. Raouf Hasanien Hamed Restorer
Mr. Rabeea M. Y. Abd El Fattah Restorer
Dr. Massimo Testardi UniPisa Administrative Officer
Mr. Mohamed Yousef Administrative Officer
Mr. Karim El Zoghbi Accoutant