National Legislation Protecting
Egypt's Cultural Heritage
The Egyptian law governing archaeology and the antiquities trade, is Law no. 215 (31st October 1951) on the Protection of Antiquities, revised by laws no. 529 of 1953, no. 24 of 1965 and no. 117 of 1983. Under this law:
- Antiquities are defined as all movable and immovable objects, which are produced by the arts, sciences, literatures, customs, religions, etc. from prehistoric times to the reign of Ismail. Also included are any movable or immovable objects produced by foreign civilizations that were at one time related to Egypt (i.e. Greek, Ptolemaic, Roman, Libyan, Persian, etc.) that are found within Egypt's borders. Any movable or immovable object declared to be an antiquity.
- All antiquities, either known or concealed, ultimately belong to the State, and are required to be registered on an official inventory. Modification, displacement or demolition of classified antiquities is prohibited. The State maintains the right to expropriate any antiquity, or land containing antiquities. Discovery of antiquities should be reported immediately to the nearest administrative official; the State may acquire any such antiquity for national collections, and the displaying of such antiquity.
- A permit is legally required for all field research, the conditions of which are set at the time of granting of the permit. All foreign nationals are required to submit a security declaration form to the Ministry of Culture Security Office, via the SCA.
- Exportation of cultural property (including environmental and biological samples) is strictly prohibited without a permit, which must be obtained 30 days prior to the intended date of export. Movement of antiquities within the country must be approved 15 days prior to their transportation.
- Dealers in antiquities must be licensed, and must maintain a daily register of transactions. Antiquities offered for sale must be authorised by the museums in advance.
- The Supreme Council of Antiquities under the auspice of the Ministry of Culture, are responsible for the restoration and preservation of Egypt's cultural heritage.
Other laws and regulations apply to related issues of zoning of cities and townships, the organisation of local governments, and the creation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their roles and responsibilities:
- Law 32 of 1964 on NGOs is now being updated by a new revised law. This law does not provide for any management of sites or buildings and the realisation of regular income and economic assumption of projects due to strong restrictions and direct supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
- Law 106 of 1976, and its amending Law 101 of 1996, related to the organization of erection or demolition of buildings etc. This law does not touch on cultural heritage.
- Law 43 of 1979 relates to the organization of local governments, governors, city managers, mayors, and local councils, and sets their roles and responsibilities. Note: while this law provides regulatory and supervisory responsibilities for the zoning and organization of townships and cities, as well as giving permits for the erection of buildings or sites, the law does not touch on the issue of cultural heritage.
- Law 158 of 1981, modified by Law 187 of 1993, relates to taxation for income for individuals, corporations and commercial activities.