Supreme Council of Antiquities

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Main entrance of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities; the flag of the Supreme Council of Antiquities can be seen on both sides of the Egyptian flag

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) was the official name of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the government body responsible for the conservation, protection and regulation of all antiquities and archaeological excavations in Egypt. Supreme Council of Antiquities is still the unofficial name of same government body.


Established in 1859 as the Department of Antiquities, then renamed the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation[1] in 1971, the SCA acquired its title in 1994 by presidential decree #82.[2] In January 2011 the SCA became an independent ministry and the name was changed to Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA).[2]

SCA functions[edit]

The SCA was responsible for defining the boundaries around archaeological sites and was also the only agent permitted to restore or preserve Egyptian monuments.[3] Foreign archaeologists working in Egypt were required to report all discoveries and finds to the SCA before publication, a somewhat controversial rule that led to the expulsion of some archaeologists from Egypt.[4] The SCA also oversaw the recovery of antiquities either stolen or illegally exported from Egypt, and between 2002 and 2008 retrieved 3,000 artifacts.[5] It is currently embroiled in a dispute with the Egyptian Museum of Berlin over the bust of Nefertiti, which it claims was removed from the country by deceit.[6] Previously it has asked for the return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum and the Dendara Zodiac from the Louvre.[7]

The SCA was governed by an Administrative Council, headed by the Minister of Culture, and a Secretary General.[8]

Antiquities service[edit]

Those who serve to preserve antiquities are in charge of the conservation and preservation of antiquities, as well as research and often give interviews and report on discoveries and work being done.[9] In the 21st century they also face the difficult task of keeping monuments safe from a fringe of Islamist radicals who want the destruction of pharanoic monuments.[10] Their official titles, depending on the years they served, have ranged from Director, to Director-General, to Chairman to Minister. [11][2] The position may entail also, as was done by Zahi Hawass for many years, to stimulate tourism to Egypt, with charm and charisma.[12]

Sayed Tawfik (1989–1990) was an Egyptologist who served when the body was called the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. [13] Among those who directed it when its official name was Supreme Council of Antiquities are Zahi Hawass (2002–2011), Mohamed Abdel Fattah (July–September 2011)[14] and Moustapha Amine (29 September 2011–2013)[15] Under its new official name Ministry of State for Antiquities Abdel Fattah al-Banna was nominated but he withdrew his nomination and [16] Zahi Hawass returned for a short time as minister but then resigned. (2011)[17] In December, 2011 Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim Aly was named antiquities minister and he promised to give new life to the SCA / MSA, by bringing in young archeologists and restarting projects which had been put on hold.[18]


  1. ^ "The Egyptian Antiquities Organization" (PDF). Penn Museum. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "SCA History". Supreme Council of Antiquities. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Hands off, and we mean it". 18 March 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | Artefacts on show in nightclub". 28 January 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | Wrapping up smuggled goods". 9 July 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Hawass, Zahi (16 July 2003). "Al-Ahram Weekly | Heritage | Dig Days Tampering with Nefertiti". Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Antiquities wish list". 20 July 2005. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "CyArk - Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities". 9 January 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Brock, Lyla Pinch; Hawass, Zahi A. (2003). Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Archaeology. American University in Cairo. ISBN 9789774246746. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  10. ^ Perry, Tom (February 15, 2013). "Top Egypt archaeologist sees hope for future in past". Reuters. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  11. ^ Bauval, Robert (October 9, 2014). Secret Chamber Revisited: The Quest for the Lost Knowledge of Ancient Egypt. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. ISBN 9781591437741. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Hammer, Joshua. "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Zahi Hawass". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  13. ^ "Sayed Tawfik, 54, Dies; Archeologist of Egypt". New York Times. December 24, 1990. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "Après le départ de Zahid Hawass, nomination d'un nouveau chef du Conseil suprême des antiquités en Egypte - Site Artclair - 26 août 2011". Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Moustapha Amine nommé nouveau chef du Conseil Suprême des antiquités égyptiennes - Site Artclair - 03 octobre 2011". Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Russeth, Andrew (July 20, 2011). "Egyptian Antiquities Mayhem Continues: Minister Zahi Hawass Returns". Observer. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  17. ^ Vergano, Dan (May 5, 2011). "Egyptology: Zahi Hawass confirms resignation". USA Today. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  18. ^ El-Aref, Nevine (December 8, 2011). "New minister of antiquities, new strategy". Ahram. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 

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