Sustainable Heritage Preservation in the Asyut Region 

Continuously inhabited for at least five thousand years, Asyut is among the world’s oldest cities, one whose far-reaching influence on Egypt’s ancient civilisation has only begun to be evaluated. The larger region; Asyut’s hinterland, is dotted with settlements that have, throughout history, been more or less depended on the wealth and prosperity of Asyut. The British Museum Asyut region project aims at to map, preserve and present Asyut’s pharaonic and post-pharaonic heritage, including the varied responses of local communities who live atop the layers of history below. Rather than treating the archaeological sites solely as academic pursuits or salvage missions, the project attempts to appeal to local interests and benefit from local knowledge through public engagement.

The current colloquium explores models for innovative and sustainable fieldwork that addresses an historical spectrum extending from antiquity to the present. The community driven model is being tested in the village of Shutb, five kilometres south of Asyut. Shutb is both a farming town and a multi-layered archaeological site (fig. 1). Perched atop the remains of ancient Shashotep, capital of the 11th Upper Egyptian province from 2000BC onwards, Shutb has been continuously inhabited for four millennia. Fieldwork in the Nile Valley has traditionally focused on the extensive cemeteries of the Memphite region and Luxor, alongside the temples further south. Shutb presents an ideal archaeological and anthropological research context and a rare opportunity to track a living history.

The project is supported by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Council Newton Fund.

Schedule:

10.30 Registration

11.00 Welcome, Essam Nagy (The Egypt Exploration Society)

11.10 The 11th upper Egyptian nome: a neglected neighbour of Asyut? Ann-Cathrin Gabel (FU Berlin)

11.30 Shutb – Shashotep: An Ancient City Rediscovered, Ilona Regulski (The British Museum)

11.50 Q&A

12.00 Coffee break

12.30 Valorizing the Ordinary: Documenting the vernacular heritage of Shutb village, Heba Shama & Kareem Ibrahim (Takween Integrated Community Development)

13.00 Q&A

13.15 Alexan palace in Asyut, Khaled Abu Zeid and Niazy Mustafa (Ministry of Antiquities, Asyut inspectorate)

13.45 Discussion on adaptive reuse of historical buildings

14.00 Coffee break

14.30 Engaging children with their heritage, Fatma Keshk and Shaimaa Atef (Neighbors of Heritage)

15.00 Q&A

15.15 Film: ‘The Last Layer. Reconnecting Local Communities With Their Heritage’

15.45 Q&A

16.00 Final discussion and finish