Wadi El Hitan
The museum is the first of its kind in the Middle East and its uniqueness is in its rare collection of fossils dating back to millions of years ago. It also features a unique architectural design to suit the environment and nature of Wadi El Hitan. The museum manifests the great collaboration between the respective partners; the Ministry of Environment, the Italian Government through the Egyptian Italian Debt for Development Programme and UNDP.
Wadi El Hitan (Arabic: وادي الحيتان, “Whale Valley”) is a paleontological site in the Faiyum Governorate of Egypt, some 150 km southwest of Cairo. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005 for its hundreds of fossils of some of the earliest forms of whale, the archaeoceti (a now extinct sub-order of whales). The site reveals evidence for the explanation of one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. This is why it was added by the UNESCO to the list of protected World Heritage sites.
The centerpiece of the museum is a 37-million-year-old and 18-meter-long skeleton of a legged form of whale that testifies to how modern-day whales evolved from land mammals. In addition, a substantial collection of fossils and other distinctive items from across Egypt exhibits the climate change process on planet Earth The museum is following the same architectural character of an indoor museum is being built. It is half buried under the ground, only exposing the curves of the domes and vault.
The new museum architectural style is mimicking the nature and the landscape of the surrounding environment. It is half buried under the ground, only exposing the curves of the domes and vault. The museum’s fossils explain one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. The fossils of Wadi Al-Hitan dating back to 50 million years show the youngest archaeocetes, in the last stages of evolution from land animals to a marine existence. Many of the whale skeletons are in good condition as they have been well preserved in the rock formations.