The political upheavals in Egypt could delay a planned official underwater search for the lost sarcophagus of Menkaure, provisionally scheduled to start in March 2011.
The summer of 2008 saw a rash of press speculation that the Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities was trying to raise funds to search for the sarcophagus. The names of undersea explorer Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, and French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio, had been tentatively linked to the project. There was also speculation that the search would involve National Geographic.
On Friday, 1st October 2010, the Egyptian State Information Service issued a rather low-key statement that Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni had announced the formation an Egyptian-Spanish joint mission to search for the sarcophagus.
The Minister said in the statement that he had "agreed with his Spanish counterpart to form a joint mission, under the chairmanship of Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to search for the coffin early March 2011 through the use of a water robot."
The statement continued that Dr Hawass "appreciated the Spanish role in this mission, which reflects its keenness on supporting the human heritage in general and the Egyptian one in particular."
There was no mention of who else would be involved.
However, Farouk Hosni is no longer Minister of Culture. He was replaced by Gaber Asfour on 31st January when the then President Hosny Mubarak swore in a new cabinet in a bid to restore order to the country following massive anti-government protests. Nine days after taking the post, Asfour resigned, citing 'health' concerns for his decision to quit.
On 13th February, 2011, military commanders announced that both the constitution and the parliament of Egypt has been dissolved. Prliamentary elections are planned for September.
Egyptian State Information Service: Culture Minister: Egyptian-Spanish mission to search for Menkaure coffin
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