Making 'Disneyland from ancient legacy': Egyptian pyramid to be clad in granite blocks

At almost 5,000 years old the Pyramid of Menkaure is looking rather good for its age. But to the horror of archeologists it is being restored as builders intended, Geraint Vincent reports

An Egyptian pyramid is being clad in granite blocks in a renovation programme dubbed as the "project of the century" by local archaeologists - but not everybody approves of the changes.

The Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the three pyramids in Giza, will be restored in a way that will allow tourists to see the site how it would have appeared in ancient times, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, Dr Mostafa Waziri said, speaking in front of the pyramid on Friday.

The project involves excavating the area around the pyramid, and then work to match the fallen granite stones with the stones in the pyramid will commence.

Archaeologists dubbed the restoration the "Project of the Century". Credit: Dr. Mostafa Waziri / Instagram

“We do not know the date on which the granite stones that covered the Pyramid of Menkaure fell, but the time has come to return them as they were in ancient Egypt, through the Century Project, in cooperation with the Japanese mission in Cairo," Dr Waziri said, as reported by Al Arabiya.

But one online commentator said altering the ancient monument makes a "Disneyland from ancient legacy".

A local historian likened the project to a puzzle game, where each stone of the pyramid needs to be matched up with a falling granite block.

"It is not an easy task," Dr. Bassam Al-Shamaa told local media.

Archaeologist Dr. Mostafa Waziri with the giant stones to be used as cladding on the pyramid. Credit: Dr. Mostafa Waziri / Instagram

But the vast undertaking has been criticised by some who think it is best to leave the pyramid in its original state, without the additional stone.

"It is destroying an ancient monument, legacy for all humanity, not only the today's country of Egypt. Please respect the past, do not make Disneyland from ancient legacy. These monuments not only for people who want to make nice selfie photo," one man wrote on Facebook.

"Oh what a shame, it will turn into a modern one as well will loose part of its historical grandeur," one user commented beneath a video of the restoration work.

"This is a terrible mistake that cannot be forgiven by the pharaonic archeology," another said.

"Deliberate and ignorance of the Egyptian civilization, and also neglect and waste of public money in the midst of an embarrassing period and suffering for the Egyptian people

The Pyramid of Menkaure is the only one of the trio that was partially covered with granite.

Many of the stones were reportedly stolen, leaving the modern day pyramid looking very different to its original appearance more than 4,000 years ago.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…