SUNDAY,MARCH 24, 2019

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Archaeologists excavate ancient ship workshop in Northern Sinai

On Tuesday, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities announced that archaeologists had discovered an ancient workshop used to make and repair ships in the Tel Abu Saifi, an archaeological site that dates back to the Ptolemaic era (332 B.C.-30 B.C.). The site in Northern Sinai has been home to the Roman fortress of Silla.  Sinai is a sparsely populated desert region of Egypt, with Red sea and Mediterranean Sea on either side.   Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities pointed out that site consists of two dry dockyards which would have been used to build and repair vessels in the past.   The Greco-Roman period in Egypt which spanned from 4 century BC to 7 century BC covering events ranging from fall to Alexander the Great to the Islamic conquest. Egypt has been a gold mine for archaeologists and last December, the excavators discovered a tomb which was said to be the final resting place of a high priest and was untouched for 4,400 years. Waziri described it as "one of a kind in the last decades".   The nation of pyramids hopes that such discoveries would increase tourism, which suffered a major setback in past few years due to political unrest and terror attacks.   Egypt is fairly dependent on its tourism industry, it being one of the key drivers of its otherwise struggling economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism contributed around 375 bn Egyptian pounds (£16bn), or 11% of GDP, in 2017.   Tension has been rife in Egypt since 2011’s political turmoil. A series of blasts have occured  in the past to hit the tourism industry since it is the backbone of its economy. To mention a few: explosion in a Russian plane over the Sinai peninsula claiming 217 lives in October 2018, the January 2016 attack in Hurghada,and  the February 2014 attack on a tourist bus. Islamic State is believed to be the most active group in the country, operating mainly in North Sinai and has been held responsible for most of these incidents.