U.S. Helps Preserve base of Sphinx by Lowering Groundwater

Giza – During a visit to the Sphinx and the Pyramids, U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft affirmed U.S. support for preserving Egypt’s antiquities and for increasing tourism. Joined by representatives from the Ministry of Antiquities, Ambassador Beecroft saw first-hand the positive impact of U.S. support for Egyptian efforts to preserve the iconic Sphinx and surrounding antiquities for future generations of tourists. Partnering with the Egyptian government to protect these antiquities, the U.S. government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) helped lower groundwater that threatened to damage the site.

“Egypt’s antiquities are part of its extraordinary cultural heritage and also represent a key economic asset that creates jobs and income,” said Ambassador Beecroft. “U.S. support helps Egypt preserve, restore, and protect world-class monuments for its vital tourism industry.”

In 2006, standing surface water appeared in the low-lying areas of the Giza Necropolis near the Great Sphinx and the recently discovered City of the Pyramid Builders. Groundwater, which can contain salts dissolved from soil as the water table rises, penetrates through the foundations of these ancient structures and weakens their integrity. The Government of Egypt, in collaboration with USAID, lowered the groundwater to safe levels in order to protect the antiquities from further damage.

Environmental factors and human activity can negatively impact Egypt’s cultural treasures – and can threaten the homes and health of the people living near them. Since the year 2000, the Government of Egypt, in collaboration with USAID, has developed and implemented several successful large-scale engineering projects to protect archaeological monuments from rising groundwater in Old Cairo, East and West Luxor, and Edfu Temple.

The American people, through USAID, have provided assistance valued at over $100 million since 1995 for the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage sites in Old Cairo, Bab Zuweila, the Giza Plateau, Luxor, Alexandria, Sohag, and Red Sea sites. Conservation efforts span the full range of Egypt’s long cultural heritage from prehistoric times to the late Ottoman period and include monuments and masterpieces from every major period.