Long-time com­ing

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

There are around 250 in­ter­na­tional arche­o­log­i­cal mis­sions in Egypt, in­clud­ing 11 in Luxor alone, ac­cord­ing to Egypt’s Min­istry of An­tiq­ui­ties. But un­til now, none came from China.

“This con­vinced us that in­ter­na­tional ex­change is a press­ing task that needs to be ful­filled for Chi­nese arche­ol­ogy,” said Wang Wei, Di­rec­tor of the Re­search Cen­ter for Chi­nese Arche­ol­ogy Abroad, an af­fil­i­ate of the In­sti­tute of Arche­ol­ogy at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences (CASS). “We now have the abil­ity to go out and help oth­ers with funds, tech­nol­ogy and skills. We have en­tered an era of go­ing out into the world.”

The cen­ter aims at im­prov­ing the role and po­si­tion of China in the global arche­o­log­i­cal field, and fa­cil­i­tat­ing ex­change with for­eign coun­ter­parts. Al­ready, the In­sti­tute of Arche­ol­ogy has started send­ing its best ex­perts to take part in joint digs in a dozen coun­tries, in­clud­ing In­dia, Hon­duras and Kenya.

“This is a good thing for Chi­nese arche­ol­ogy, be­cause we can ob­serve our peers and com­pare our­selves, and this greatly im­proves our know-how. It’s a very re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Gao.

When­ever they go, Chi­nese arche­ol­o­gists are most wel­comed by lo­cal part­ners, not least for the ex­per­tise and tech­nolo­gies they bring with them.

In 2010, a team of 11 Chi­nese arche­ol­o­gists went to Kenya to search for the an­cient ship­wreck of Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) mar­itime ex­plorer Zheng He. The team was later praised by the Kenyan Gov­ern­ment for hav­ing im­proved the coun­try’s un­der­wa­ter sur­vey­ing tech­niques.

“Chi­nese ex­perts are highly skilled pro­fes­sion­als who brought their ex­per­tise in un­der­wa­ter arche­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions, as well as spe­cial skills in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Chi­nese ce­ram­ics,” Kiriama Her­man, ‎a Kenyan arche­ol­o­gist who took part in the joint Sino-kenyan digs, told Chi­nafrica. and her­itage,” Mo­hamed Has­san Ab­del Fat­tah, Di­rec­tor of Arche­o­log­i­cal Doc­u­men­ta­tion at Egypt’s Min­istry of An­tiq­ui­ties, told Chi­nafrica.

He said co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two an­cient civ­i­liza­tions could mean a “big bang” in the field of arche­ol­ogy, adding that 3D re­mote sens­ing and imag­ing and radar tech­nolo­gies could be put to use to un­cover hid­den royal tombs.

“What de­lighted us is that Egypt’s Min­istry of An­tiq­ui­ties has a very open at­ti­tude to the ap­pli­ca­tion of new tech­niques, and they wel­come dif­fer­ent work­ing meth­ods of dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Our tech­niques have proved to be ef­fec­tive for Chi­nese arche­ol­ogy, and we shall see if they give sim­i­lar re­sults in Egypt,” said Gao.

Although China is a late­comer to Egyp­tol­ogy, the arche­o­log­i­cal team mem­bers ex­pressed con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to up their game in this field and con­trib­ute to the ex­plo­ration of Luxor.

“Our fo­cus is, first and fore­most, on learn­ing, be­cause we be­lieve that we can all learn a lot from our co­op­er­a­tion. For ex­am­ple, for en­vi­ron­men­tal rea­sons, Egyp­tian arche­ol­o­gists have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of stones, while the Chi­nese team has stronger ex­per­tise in soil tones,” ex­plained Gao.

He and his col­leagues have done their home­work to pre­pare them­selves for this jour­ney, in­clud­ing col­lect­ing data on the site where they will work. More­over, the In­sti­tute of Arche­ol­ogy in­vited world-renowned ex­perts to give the team a se­ries of 13 lec­tures on an­cient Egyp­tian civ­i­liza­tion.

Co­op­er­a­tion in the dig­ging pits can open up new chan­nels for broader re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries’ arche­ol­o­gists, said Fat­tah.

Arche­ol­ogy is not only about re­veal­ing mys­ter­ies of the past, but also about ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic, he told Chi­nafrica, adding that more at­ten­tion should be given to co­op­er­a­tion in the fields of muse­ol­ogy, cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion.

This is in line with the mis­sion of Gao and other Chi­nese arche­ol­o­gists in Egypt, whose ob­jec­tive, said Wang Wei, is “not only to de­ci­pher Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion, but also to con­trib­ute their wis­dom to un­rav­el­ling the mys­ter­ies that re­main un­re­solved in the study of world civ­i­liza­tion.” (Re­port­ing from Luxor, Egypt) Com­ments to fran­cois­dube@chi­nafrica.cn

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.