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Six-Year Project is Collaboration Between Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Getty Conservation Institute

March 9, 2006

CAIRO, EGYPT—Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Getty announced today a new partnership for the conservation and management of the Valley of the Queens.  The six-year, two-phase project is a collaborative effort between the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the SCA, with the support of the SCA’s Luxor and Upper Egypt’s Antiquities Regional Office.

Located on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor, Egypt, the Valley of the Queens in the ancient necropolis of Thebes includes the tomb of Nefertari, the site of the SCA and GCI’s first collaboration (which began in 1985).  One of the most important archaeological areas in the world, Thebes is also the site of the Tombs of the Nobles and the Valley of the Kings, famous for the tomb of Tutankhamun.  Because of new construction, intensive agriculture on the flood plain of the Nile, and mass tourism, the ancient monuments on the West Bank are subject to increasing threats and accelerating deterioration.

The Valley of the Queens project will occur in two phases.  During the conservation and management planning phase (2006–08), the project team will assess management capabilities, significance of threats, and site conditions.  Project implementation (2009–11) will include training for Egyptian personnel in wall paintings conservation and the management of archaeological sites, and coordination with others working in the West Bank on an integrated approach to the conservation of ancient Thebes.  Technical, scientific, and conservation personnel from regional institutions and universities will participate in all aspects of the project.

"We are pleased to once again be working with our colleagues in Egypt. Through our numerous collaborations over the past 20 years, we have developed a strong working relationship based on mutual concern for the preservation of Egypt’s rich heritage, which includes some of civilization’s most significant sites," says Deborah Marrow, interim president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. "This renewed partnership will enable us to build on our joint investments and achievements in conservation, and to expand our efforts throughout the region."

The Valley of the Queens project will begin with a period of research and assessment, including documentation of the approximately 80 tombs in the Valley; collection of existing resources, including photographs and maps as well as climate, geological, and other environmental data; and the evaluation of damage and threats to the Valley of the Queens from natural causes, especially flooding from rainfall events.  The project will also look carefully at tourism management issues, including visitor capacity and site interpretation.

Training of SCA professionals is a central component of the project.  The GCI team will work closely with a group of six mid-career Egyptian professionals on all aspects of site planning, implementation, monitoring, and maintenance to prepare them for the responsibilities of managing the sites on the West Bank.  Training will include attendance at annual workshops, month-long sessions at the GCI in Los Angeles, and participation in international conferences.  In addition, the GCI will train a group of four experienced SCA wall paintings conservators, introducing them to new techniques and materials available in the field.  They will also attend seminars on condition assessment, monitoring, practical problem solving, and diagnostic skills to help them understand and identify causes of deterioration of the wall paintings.

The GCI will also collaborate with other projects and organizations working in the West Bank.  Information will be shared through a series of workshops and meetings, with the aim of fostering coherent approaches and methodologies among the various initiatives in the region.

"Our collaboration with the SCA in the Valley of the Queens allows us to apply the GCI’s site management skills and methods at a site of universal value and importance.  The project will not only secure the preservation of Nefertari’s tomb and the other tombs and cultural features of the Valley, but we hope that it can also serve as a model in the region," says Tim Whalen, director of the Getty Conservation Institute.  
The Valley of the Queens project is the latest collaboration between the GCI and the SCA (formerly the Egyptian Antiquities Organization), a relationship that began shortly after the inception of the GCI in 1985.  The first joint effort focused on the conservation of the wall paintings in the tomb of Nefertari, which are considered among the most beautiful to have survived from pharaonic times.  Over the years, the project also involved the training of local staff in conservation processes and the development of long-term planning for the protection of the tomb, including environmental monitoring.  Following the opening of the tomb to the general public, the GCI provided additional monitoring of the tomb’s microenvironment and periodic inspections of the condition of the wall paintings.

In addition to the tomb of Nefertari, the GCI’s work in Egypt has included the development of oxygen-free display and storage cases for the Royal Mummies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, an environmental monitoring study of the Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau outside Cairo, and preparatory work for the conservation of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to improve and advance the practice of conservation.  The Institute pursues projects and initiatives that serve and benefit the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, field projects, and the sharing and dissemination of information.  The GCI is one of the four Programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

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John Giurini
Getty Communications Department

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