By Timothy P. Whalen

This special issue of Conservation, The GCI Newsletter brings together two subjects that have been very much a part of the Getty Conservation Institute's history and focus—cultural heritage in Egypt and site management.

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The interest and involvement of the GCI in the conservation of Egypt's cultural heritage dates back to the earliest days of the Institute. The GCI's first field project, begun in 1986, was a collaborative undertaking with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization—today the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)—to assess, analyze, and conserve the remarkable wall paintings in the tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor. The initiation of this project was followed by other projects, including a study of the causes of deterioration of the Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau and the design, testing, and technology transfer to Egyptian personnel of nitrogen-filled cases for the Royal Mummy Collection in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

In recent years, the GCI has renewed its relationship with its cultural heritage colleagues in Egypt and returned to the Valley of the Queens to assist the SCA in developing and implementing a plan to address the management and conservation of the valley as a whole. The management and conservation of sites is another long-held interest of the Institute that, over the years, has manifested itself in courses and workshops, publications, and conferences and in many of the collaborative field projects conducted by the GCI. The Institute is bringing this expertise to its new efforts in the Queens Valley, which involve not only the management plan but also training for SCA professionals in site planning and implementation, as well as a separate program for wall paintings conservators.

The Valley of the Queens is a major part of the Theban West Bank—one of the most archaeologically rich sites of Egyptian antiquity—which also includes the Valley of the Kings and the Tombs of the Nobles, as well as a number of mortuary temples, a workers' village, and other notable places. In the context of its work in the Queens Valley, the GCI has joined with the SCA and other organizations working in the West Bank area to regularly exchange information and to create the foundation for the development of a management and conservation plan that will encompass the entirety of the West Bank.

In light of this important undertaking, we asked several of those joining with us in this effort to contribute to this edition of Conservation as a way of illuminating both the major preservation issues facing this extraordinary site of antiquity and the steps being taken to address these issues. We are grateful to our colleagues at the SCA (in particular to Zahi Hawass, SCA's secretary general), the Epigraphic Survey of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the Theban Mapping Project, the Egypt Antiquities Information System, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the French Archaeological Mission of Western Thebes (a program of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) for sharing their thoughts in the following pages.