Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anani inaugurated, on Sunday, the first factory producing replicas of archaeological artefacts in the country and the Middle East.
The factory, which is located in Obour City, eastern Cairo, has been established in cooperation with the Treasures of Egypt for Archaeological Models company.
The minister described the factory’s opening as an important and necessary step, and expressed his pride and great happiness for the completion of this ambitious project.
During the inauguration, the minister reviewed the plant, manual and mechanised production units, and the exhibition hall, and heard from the factory’s workers about the mechanisms of its workflow.
Importance for Egyptian Industry
El-Anani said that the project is not commercial, but rather aims to introduce Egyptian industry to the world. It also aims to protect Egypt’s rich cultural heritage and the intellectual property rights of the country’s antiquities.
He added that this comes as part of the state’s strategy for sustainable development, and enhancing the utilisation of Egypt’s rich ancient civilisation and archaeological heritage.
It will take place in a way that meets Egypt’s tourism and economic needs, with a positive and unique cultural return whilst protecting Egyptian identity. It will also work to develop the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ material resources and increase national income.
El-Anani noted that every replica produced at the factory bears a special Supreme Council of Antiquities stamp. All pieces produced will also come with an approved certificate, clearly stating that it is a counterfeit piece and a true copy and produced by the Ministry.
This is in addition to a barcode, through which all information on this piece, in the Arabic and English languages, can be accessed. The information includes details of materials used, the product’s weight, name and place of display of the original piece.
Put together, this information will contribute to protecting the unit’s products from counterfeiting.
The minister said that archaeological reproductions are among the most important products that are marketed in the tourism sector, reflecting the importance of these archaeological models and the world’s interest in them.
El-Anani said that the production of such replicas in Egypt comes in response to requests made by tourists, who frequently purchase such items as souvenirs
The Egyptian-made replicas will become valuable souvenirs bearing the country’s official stamp, which Egyptians abroad can give as gifts outside the country.
The minister added that these copies will be made available to various hotels and tourist bazaars at special prices. The factory can also manufacture items for museums around the world due to the efficiency of the Egyptian workforce.
For his part, world renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass told Daily News Egypt that this is an important project, because the replicas will be produced and stamped with the seal of Egypt’s different museums. These include some of the country’s most renowned institutions, including the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the Islamic Museum, and the Coptic Museum.
“The factory will work under the full supervision of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, with the replicas to generate a very strong income,” Hawass also said, “They will also ensure that there will no longer be any need for Chinese replicas, because they are not produced according to standards, but the seal of the Egyptian Museum will ensure our antiquities are sold everywhere.”
“I think the private sector will go to the state rather than China, but we have to make reasonable prices so that people can buy,” he added.
Official sales outlet opens on 4 April
El-Anani announced that the first official sales outlet for these reproductions will be opened at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo’s Fustat district, on 4 April, after the museum officially opens.
The outlet will open following the museum’s official opening and its reception of the Royal Mummies Parade.
El-Anani indicated that official sales outlets for these reproductions will be available across Egypt, including at museums and markets in the near future to facilitate promoting Egyptian industry.
The minister said that official sales outlets for these reproductions will be available at museums and markets across Egypt in the near future, which will contribute to promoting Egyptian industry.
He added that some products will also be exported outside Egypt, in addition to their participation in foreign tourism exhibitions.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities has, since 1982, placed its attention on the production of archaeological replicas, when the Art Revival Center was established.
The centre, which continues production to this day, was intended as the start of a project for producing archaeological replicas.
The council has since inaugurated the archaeological replicas unit in the Citadel of Salah Al-Din in Cairo, which was opened in 2010. It is here that the replica unit worked to open new ideas for the production of archaeological replicas that are identical to the original artefacts from a variety of eras.
Then the Art Revival Center was merged with the archaeological unit for archaeological replicas in the citadel, and the Kenouz Company was established.
El-Anani said that construction work on the factory began about 18 months ago, and aims to keep pace with the requirements of the local and global market in the manufacture of archaeological models.
Replicas, which will be made by Egyptian artists and specialists boasting extensive experience and competence, will be produced at the highest level and using distinguished technical expertise.
Mostafa Waziri, Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, pointed out that the establishment of this factory was not the first sign of the ministry’s interest in producing archaeological replicas.
Rather, it came as an evolution to merge the archaeological replicas unit that the Supreme Council of Antiquities established in the Salah Al-Din Citadel with the Art Revival Centre. He said that, for the first time, there will be a large factory more prepared for this work.
He added that the factory employs about 150 artists, restoration specialists, and craftsmen with extensive experience in the field. Most of them are employed with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and most of the products are handmade.
Hisham Shaarawi, Chairperson of the Kenouz of Egypt for Archaeological Replicas company, indicated that this factory had been completed at the end of 2020. It then opened for trial operations, during which it produced 6,400 different pieces, including wood, ceramic, stone, and metal products. It also produced a series of replicas of the treasures found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
The factory’s total area stands at about 10,000 sqm, and is equipped with the highest technology and the latest specialised machinery. This includes manual and automated production lines for casting metals to produce and raise the efficiency of products from metalwork, a line for wood and carpentry to produce all woodwork, and a line of moulds required for production lines.
Other production methods available at the factory include sections for sculpture, printing, and drawing and colouring. The factory includes the production of coloured glass and t-shirt printing, in addition to an exhibition hall for showcasing the replicas.
The Kenouz Factory is keen on playing a role in the field of preserving the environment and exploiting all resources, and as part of this has started a production line for recycling.
This will see waste from the manufacture of artworks and paintings, such as eggshells, tree leaves, and other items, used rather than simply being thrown away.
Maximum utilisation of the existing Egyptian technical competencies will be achieved and job opportunities will be created for young people.
This aims to keep pace with local and international market requirements, and to meet the increasing demand for the purchase of Egyptian antiquities models.
The Kenouz Factory for archaeological replicas includes many sections and workshops, such as: casting and reproduction; drawing and colouring; metal casting; woodwork; inlay; metal crafts; sculpture; ceramics; and packaging.
All sections and departments are provided with the latest technologies and operating and automated manufacturing machines. These include a metal casting line, a DMG machine for making forms and metal moulds, and a laser machine for engraving and working on metals.
There are also devices and machines for designing, printing, and robotic machines for carving and shaping solid rock masses such as granite, basalt, durite, as well as working in 2D and 3D in woodwork and marble.