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Impacts of Colonisation in Egypt:
Positive Cultural Developments
Egypt 's milleniums-long history and culture was unique and one of a kind found nowhere else on the world. Egypt was the gift of the Nile, and the remains of her rich culture and history dotted the land along the banks of the Nile ; lasting prove of the great civilisation that once thrived along the lower stretch of the longest river in the world. However, since the pharaohs in Egypt died away with Cleopatra as Egypt 's last, her culture went slowly into decay and eventually disappeared. Indeed, the ancient Egyptian writings, hieroglyphics were for a long time lost and the ancient Egyptian tongue extinct.
From Egypt 's transition throughout the middle ages to the 18th century, her monuments and artifacts had been constantly attacked. Religious and political reasons all came into play in vandalising the age-old remains. Conveniently too, monuments were destroyed to reuse its building materials for other purposes such as walls and other defenses. Egyptian monuments and artifacts were thus neglected and slowly damaged by the Coptic Christians, and then the Islamic rulers who ruled Egypt since 639A.D, ruled by various dynasties of caliphs. Her transition to the Ottoman rulers in 1517 did not make things any better.
Since the beginning of the 16th century, Europeans had begun to take increasing interest of Egypt , a land mysterious and enchanting to most. Artifacts and mummies were shipped to Europe where wealthy merchants or rulers collected them. Eventually, public interest began to increase.
In 1798 when Napoleon invaded Egypt , he had taken along with him a team of scientist, artists and mathematicians whom he sent over Egypt to record her national monuments and treasures. Among one of their finds was the Rosetta Stone that was to prove essential in cracking the Egyptian hieroglyphic lost for a millenium. Upon their return to France , the findings in Egypt were published as the book La Description de l'Egypte (Descriptions of Egypt), which remain spectacular today. The French expedition brought attention to the public in Europe of the wonders in Egypt .
Eventually at the beginning of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution in Europe increased transportation available for travel. Eventually, more and more people headed for exotic locations for tours, and one of these was Egypt . Under the Ottoman leaders who considered the age-old monuments to be little more than stones dotting the landscape, Egypt 's national monuments and artifacts were allowed to be sold and shipped away, mainly to European countries. Furthermore, locals, struggling for a living, likewise had little value for artifacts founded, and actively sought to sell them to tourists or simply discard them. Egypt 's monuments and artifacts had been destroyed slowly since the end of pharaonic Egypt , yet with the new onslaught of tourists and treasure hunters seeking to sell antiques and artifacts, the beginning of the 19 th century for Egypt turned out to be plunder of enormous proportions. Statues, obelisks, antiques and even mummy were shipped off as long as money could be made. The most prominent examples will be of obelisks taken from Egypt and are still standing in Britain , France and the US . Muhammad Ali for example, offered obelisks to France to gain her friendship, resulting the removal of one of the obelisks standing at Karnak, one of Egypt 's many great temples, and now stands at Place de la Concorde, Paris. It was the age when tomb-robbers thrived and corrupt officials assisted in the looting. A Frenchman, Vivien de Saint Martin of the period, lamented:
Elephantine has been stripped of its lovely temple which exists only in the great work of the Commission. Armant has yield to a sugar refinery the most beautiful half of the portal. The small temples of Esna, el Kah, the Typhonium of Edfu, the great tomb of Onnofre at Saqqara , half of the Hypogeum of Lycopolis are lost ˇ®for ever'.
Worry of Lost Heritage
The rampant rate at which Egypt's national heritage was being stripped and destroyed was enough to worry many top Egyptologists, Europeans, of the time, though many were also the very same people who had previously shipped the antiques off themselves. They pressured the various Khedives to make laws to protect Egypt 's heritage, but these were of little effect in the highly corrupted administration. The various European Egyptologists thus defended their stance that if they do not ship these artifacts back to Europe in the safe hands of European museums, it will be destroyed in the hands of locals or ignorant tourists. Thus this irony, of stealing to protect the monuments and artifacts, continued.
The setting up of an Egyptian National Museum and new laws in 1835, due to Frenchman Champollion's pleas, the person responsible for unlocking the Egyptian hieroglyphic code, marked a historical start. However, accomplished little at the very start, the laws preventing exportation of antiques and that all artifacts are owned by the Egyptian government and to be transferred to the museum at Cairo were unenforceable, for the problems were simply too huge. Yet laws did make large selling of artifacts harder, and this was a positive step taken.
As British influence and French closed round Egypt, Egyptology was meanwhile in the making as English and French scholars began to analyse rather than simply take monuments or artifacts from Egypt . Eventually, after the British occupation, the Antique Service of the administration came under the influence of the French. Efforts were stepped up against the illegal looting of artifacts and tomb-robbing. Initially, several large shipments of artifacts still managed to be shipped off to European museums demanding antiques to add to their Egyptian collection. The system however, was slowly entering maturity, and Egypt 's national treasures were eventually safer.
Egyptology thrived under the British occupation. Egyptologist, mainly coming from Britain , arrived in Egypt to study the various artifacts the scientific way, and hand them over to the Egyptian museum, though souvenirs of smaller proportions to before were still constantly taken away by them. The finding of Tut-ankh-Amun's tomb for example, was accomplished by Howard Carter, an Englishman in 1922. The findings were escorted to the Egyptian museum under heavy guard, and the treasures saved for Egyptians. Had Egypt not been under the British, but still remained under Ottoman control, it is unlikely the find would have been saved for Egypt .
The British occupation thus has positive effects in its promotion of Egyptology and while it does not totally eradicate the problem of thief and losing of national treasures, Britain herself having taken so much of Egypt's heritage, the period did see a significant improvement from that under the Ottoman's. Overall thus, the British occupation was beneficial to Egypt in this aspect.
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