Archaeology, the Bible, and the First Aswan Dam
The first Aswan Dam was the most controversial civil enterprise of the early British Mandate in Egypt. It was also one of the most ideologically loaded projects of a British-dominated government, which wished to be seen as both modernizing force and guardian of Egypt's heritage. In this conflicted situation, lobbies for and against the construction of the dam do not follow predictable patterns. Engineers, seeing themselves as modern parallels to the biblical Joseph, often expressed greater discomfort with the drowning of monuments than did those, including Egyptologists, whose professional concerns were with Egypt's ancient past. Initially centred around biblical imagery and the iconic temple of Philae, the debate was transformed by the emergence of concern for Egyptian prehistory and consequent attraction of new anthropological interests.
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