It’s Worse – Much Worse


According to Zahi Hawass:

“…Upstairs, in front of the room that holds the golden mask of Tutankhamun, a vitrine containing two walking sticks and the head of a gilded fan belonging to the king. One stick was stripped of its thin gold sheeting when it was thrown on the floor, but it can be restored. This case, and the one containing the statue of Tutankamun standing on a panther, were the only Tutankhamun cases that suffered from any damage. I carefully rechecked all the other vitrines in the Tutankhamun galleries, and I would like to assure the world that they are safe and untouched…”

Unfortunately the looting and damage to the priceless treasures in the Egyptian Museum are much, much worse.  The point to the very reason The Pink Flamingo does not approve of re-patriation of artifacts.

What is important is who is going to control the treasures in Egypt?

“...As Egypt struggles to lay the foundations of a new government in the wake of its revolution, archaeologists around the world are closely watching the fate of the nation’s prized antiquities—as well as the fortunes of Zahi Hawass, long the face and voice of the country’s ancient monuments. Hawass, who under Hosni Mubarak was recently named minister of antiquities, has been confronting an unusual uprising among his own staff as well as questions about his political future. And today, he reported a theft at a cemetery south of Cairo, as well as eight missing artifacts from the Egyptian Museum, located on Tahrir Square itself. Archaeologists are left wondering about the effects of the revolution on the dozens of excavations in the country, as well as on the next generation of homegrown researchers.

Nora Shalaby

Hawass revealed 12 February in his blog that eight important objects are missing from the Egyptian Museum following the 29 January break-in by thieves. Those include two gilded statues of King Tutankhamen as well as a statue of Queen Nefertiti. An investigation is under way. He added that on 11 February looters emptied a storage area in Dashur, an important ancient necropolis in the southern part of the famous cemetery at Saqqara, which contained large blocks and small artifacts. “I am now concerned Egypt is not safe,” he wrote. The thefts from the Egyptian Museum are likely to undermine Hawass’s long-standing efforts to have important artifacts, such as a bust of Nefertiti now in Berlin, returned to Cairo (Science, 28 January, p. 382).

Meanwhile, Hawass faced other problems. On 10 February, dozens of museum workers protested for higher wages outside his office in the Cairo suburb of Zamalek, an unthinkable event in a country where, until January, the government kept a tight lid on criticism. And Hany Hanna, a senior conservator in the Supreme Council of Antiquities, urged Hawass in a widely circulated letter last week “to change the overall system of corruption and replace it with a professional scientific management.” Hanna complained that party hacks riddle the council and prevent younger and more talented people from rising in the ranks. Hawass could not be reached for comment last week. But the Hany letter and Zamalek protests appear to be part of a wider move by Egyptians to air their opinions about the way their government has been run for the past 3 decades…”

When you read this list, it is quite obvious someone knew exactly what they were doing – exactly what they were taking.

NY Times
National Geographic


From the Eloquent Peasant:

Eloquent Peasant

Paul Barfield wrote:

“…How about also investigating why – according to Hawass – there were only three museum guards in the place, and how it is possible that, according to reports, the thieves had AN HOUR to do what they had come into the museum to do, when the sound of the smashing glass would have been echoing around the Museum loudly enough to hear above the noise of the mob outside. The head of the SCA and Minister of Antiquities had been gleefully telling the world how “ignorant” the thieves had been, even though it must have been obvious that the upper part of the harpooning figure was not among the pieces collected together for conservation more than a week ago, despite the fact that the Akhenaton statue was mentioned as “damaged” in an earlier communique. The varying conflicting messages given out concerning this break-in has given the people who have these priceless antiquities in their hands a full two weeks to get them out of the country, very probably facilitated by the general chaos at the main exit airports. It is clear that there needs to be a wider enquiry into the manner in which this crisis was managed and the precise circumstances surrounding this theft, arguably one of the biggest and most audacious art heists of all time….”

Eloquent Peasant

“…Have a look at Dashur on Google Earth, the reason why this site was felt to be one of the safest in the pyramid fields is that there is a huge army base right next to it. We’ve been assured that the army has been protecting sites and magazines since the beginning of February. So why was it possible to break into this site last night? Some commentators have raised the question of when the break-in actually occurred and whether there are reasons why its looting is only now, the day after Mubarak ‘abdicated’, this news becomes public. Is the underlying message that the army is unable to look after these sites by itself?…”

Eloquent Peasant
Eloquent Peasant