Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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The Neolithic rock art at the Cave of the Swimmers, made popular by the 1996 film The English Patient, is being admired to death by tourists who feel compelled to touch the 10,000-year-old paintings. Visitors are also coming in such numbers that their breath and perspiration have altered the cave's climate, causing severe deterioration of the artwork. The site is one of many in Egypt's remote deserts that are being compromised by unsupervised visits. The Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Ministry of the Environment have begun outreach programs to the desert drivers who ferry visitors to the sites. Officials hope the drivers can encourage tourists to behave appropriately around fragile archaeological remains.

More Sites Under Threat 2010