101 NUBIAN TREASURES IN DANGER On January 9, 1960, just south of Aswan, work be- gan on building the huge dam called Sadd el-Ali (theHighDam) near the First Cataract of theNile. The Egyptian government held an unprecedent- ed ceremony on this day for the biggest building project in its modern history: the new dam, with its powerful turbines, would increase the country’s electricity resources, indispensable to the country’s progress. As a result, the artificial lake that was to be created south of the new damwould completely alter the landscape: over 500 km of the Nile valley in Egyptian and Sudanese Nubia would inevitably be submerged by the waters. Together with the region from Aswan to wadi Halfa, the extraordinary archaeo- logical heritage stretching along the Nile would be lost forever: from the most remote pre- historic remains to the imposing Egyptian, Ptolemaic and Roman temples, in addition to the Coptic andMuslim buildings and traditional indigenous villages. This was the price to be paid for progress. Construction of the first Aswan Dam, which was subsequently built higher, between 1898 and 1933, had already caused water levels to rise considerably, threat- ening the sites closest to the water; now, with the new higher barrier, the situation would drastically deteriorate without timely intervention and the adoption of radical solutions. The Egyptian government, aware of the situation and its limited resources to tackle it, took action on April 6, 1959, by calling on UNESCO to lend its assistance. UNESCO’s director-general, the Italian Vittorino Veronese, responded to Egypt’s re- quest by making an international appeal for help from the whole world. On October 24, 1959, the Sudanese government also requested help for the same purpose. A heartfelt public appeal was launched on March 8, 1960 during UNESCO’s Twelfth General Con- ference. “Such a worthy cause deserves a spectacular effort. This is why I feel confident in inviting governments, institutions and public or private bodies and every person of good will to contribute to the success of an undertaking that is unprecedented in history.” Al- though there were strong doubts about the international reaction to the proposal, many states responded to the appeal by organizing archaeological expeditions, excavations and surveys, while others offered substantial funding. The United States, Argentina and Can- ada took part with staff and resources. In Europe assistance was provided collectively by Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, East Germany, West Germany, Britain, Italy, NUBIAN TREASURES IN DANGER