Leading archaeologists have denounced the poor state of conservation of the Roman remains at Antinopolis in Egypt, the city built by the emperor Hadrian, who ruled Rome from 117AD to 138AD. The revolution that swept through the country in 2011 and the subsequent exit of its president, Hosni Mubarak, who is currently in jail facing corruption charges, have affected the security and conservations of many historical sights in the country, especially those that are far from major city centres. Antinopolis, located near the Nile over 30km south of the nearest large town, Minya, is a perfect target.
Until recently, the Roman hippodrome there was still intact, although it has now been swallowed by the ever-expanding cemetery for the neighbouring small town called Sheikh ‘Ibada. Out of the four hippodromes built by the Romans in Egypt, this was the only one that survived. Large areas are being prepared for redevelopment and parts of the ancient necropolis on the north of the site have already been converted into farmland.
Groups of children pass by us, grinning, armed with spades with which they dig out artefacts and sell them. People don’t like our presence here