CAIRO -- Ahmed Kadry, 59, who headed the Egyptian Antiquities Organization through a turbulent six years that began and ended with rocks falling from the Sphinx, died Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh where he was awaiting a liver transplant. He had liver cancer.

His career was long and stormy. He was among the young officers who joined Lt. Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1952 coup that ended the monarchy and eventually led to republican Egypt.

He later spent time in Nasser's jails during one of the former leader's crackdowns on dissent.

After his military career, Mr. Kadry spent 26 years with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. He became chairman in 1982 after a stone fell from the decaying Sphinx and cost his predecessor the job.

Six years later, Mr. Kadry was fired in a similar controversy when a rock fell from the right shoulder of the giant statue in February 1988.

Soon after, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Mr. Kadry engaged in a heated public argument. Hosni, Mr. Kadry's boss, charged that a restoration project in progress since Mr. Kadry became chairman had endangered the monu ment.

Mr. Kadry retaliated with allegations that the minister's agents hammered the stone out to embarrass him. Hosni fired Mr. Kadry.

He left Egypt, a bitter man, to join the faculty of Tokyo's Waseda University.

Criticism of his Sphinx restoration continues. But in recent months some critics have praised his other achievements as chairman.

A television commentator referred to his tenure as "the golden age of Egyptian antiquities."

He is best remembered for restoration work on ancient mosques and other Islamic monuments, including Saladin's fortress overlooking Cairo and his small fort in the Gulf of Aqaba.

The strong-willed Mr. Kadry became chairman of antiquities as the outside world was starting to realize that Egypt's vast historic legacy would not last forever. Pollution, underground salt, a burgeoning population, neglect and mass tourism were destroying the monuments. Looking for ways to stop the decay, or at least slow it down, he shifted his organization's emphasis from excavation to preservation.

He turned to foreign help and imported technology to fight the battle. For this, commentators assailed him vigorously, accusing him of letting foreigners pillage Egypt's past as they had done during colonial times.