A photo of Professor Kara Cooney on the plan to restore a pyramid

UCLA Egyptologist Kara Cooney appeared on NBC’s Today show to share her perspective on a controversial project to restore one of the Egypt’s famed Giza pyramids.

“When you restore something, you’re actually removing the antiquity,” said Cooney, professor of Egyptian art and architecture and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. “You’re beautifying something beyond the ruin, beyond the antiquity that it is. You’re perfecting it, and you’re making something that didn’t exist.”

The plan, introduced by the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, calls for restoring the exterior walls of one pyramid using the granite blocks that currently lie near the base of the structure. The restoration had already begun, but work has been suspended amid widespread backlash and an international committee will review the proposal.

“The bottom section of the pyramid was faced with a different kind of stone, with a granite stone,” Cooney said. “Now, if you undo that and you try to put those in place, are you putting those blocks in the right place or in the wrong place?”

Watch the Today segment, which aired Feb. 9, 2024: