Treasures In My Hood

Alexandria is packed with ancient artifacts from dynasties that are buried under its waters and earth. For centuries the city has welcomed lovers, enemies, and collaborators from Greece, Italy and even Atlantis. Underwater, columns and sunken treasures buried deep from earthquakes stand frozen in time waiting to be resurrected to bask once again in the glory of supreme empires.

Under all the apartment buildings aligned in the city, treasure and history lie beneath. Tons of history, so much that nobody knows what to do with it. Builders are warned not to continue building if they should find remnants of any sort, but when money is involved, the greedy don't listen to anybody. And if a builder is confronted by a temple while he's pulling dirt to build a 5-star hotel, sometimes bribes won't hide the problem, and he is forced to stop building. So it is common to find abandoned areas such as you see above, which is situated in an apartment compound near the water. This whole area where I live is heavy, heavy in this kind of stuff. There are tons of temples, burial grounds, columns, sphinx statues, obelisks, libraries of sorts, and water measurement dwellings, that harvested and measured the Nile, all around and below.

At the end of the corniche, near the Port of Alexandria, there is a big castle that now rests there that once used to hold the palace of Cleopatra. An earthquake came and wiped out that whole part of the city, and more. All of it went sweeping into the sea. There are amazing photographs at the Museum of Alexandria that show all these statues and temples resting underwater. It was the most beautiful, beautiful sight I had ever seen. My friend Nas said that when he was younger, he'd find gigantic Isis wings in the water near the shore. They were so big and just stuck out of the water that nobody could carry it. I've been dying to go diving around there but nobody local will go with me - nobody. There was tons and tons of cool stuff just hanging around the shorelines and deep within the seas that trace back centuries. Some fishermen will find things and start up seafood restaurants with the money. There is so much stuff that needs organizing, protecting, and safekeeping that Egyptian Antiquities departments wouldn't know where to begin. For that reason, the black market for selling this kind of stuff has made many poor country folk billionaires. I've been asked to find sellers for statues. I've been asked to launder money. This stuff is everywhere and carelessly treated and not protected at all. In upper Egypt, obelisks are so common that they are used as lamp posts in one poor town.

We need a legitimate commission that tracks and safeguards all Egyptian antiquities. There should be strict penalties on the mishandling, selling, and destruction done to anything historical - no matter how relevant or irrelevant it may seem. Nothing should be sold - at any cost - to anybody. All pieces of Egyptian artifacts should be returned to Egypt and stored behind glass windows and cases -- open for all to look at -- in one open library. Egypt is not for sale and what belongs to her should be returned at once - everything. If you sell your parents for bread to fatten yourself, you're not worth anything at all.

What does this say about Egypt's children?

By Suzy Kassem