“Heliopolis, the site of ancient Iunu or Biblical On, is the only Ancient Egyptian archaeological site still visible in Cairo. The site is located to the northeast of Cairo, in close vicinity to contemporary Heliopolis orMisr Al-Gadeeda. The site was the capital of the 13thnome of Lower Egypt and was famous for the temples of the gods Ra, Ra-Atum and Ra-Horakhty, which turned Heliopolis into a significant religious centre since the pre-dynastic period.
Since the 25 January Revolution the local inhabitants of the area have started to take over the land and have started construction projects right on the archaeological site. Right next to the obelisk of Senusert I, three buildings have been constructed thus far and foundations have been dug for another two. Right next to Souq El-Khamis El-Gadeed two huge buildings have been built.
Across the market another series of around 10 buildings is currently being erected on the archaeological site. The debris that is generated by the construction is full of archaeological finds and included the famous stela (engraved stone funerary slab) found by the Ministry of State for Antiquities in 2012.
The only way to save ancient Heliopolis, which is rapidly turning into a dangerous slum area with a reputation for drugs and weapon dealing, is to turn it into a tourist attraction. It is the closest archaeological city to the Cairo International Airport and so is in easy reach, particularly because a metro line is only one kilometre away.
The site is in desperate need of proper and thorough excavations and a site management plan that also accommodates the community, which feels completely detached from the heritage that the location represents. The community needs to feel that the touristic potential of the area will benefit them economically and effectively.
There are some small initiatives to draw attention to the dire situation of ancient Heliopolis, one of them will take place on Saturday 22 June. Volunteers will help inspectors of the Ministry of Antiquities to clean all the garbage that has been dumped on the site of Arab El-Hisn in an attempt to protect it by keeping it clean” – via Daily News Egypt.
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I really hope that Heliopolis gets the attention that it needs to save it from complete destruction. Such an important site cannot be left to fade away…