"Egyptian antiquities were often the price paid for building modern Egypt, writes Jill Kamil. Muhammad Ali used antiquities as a diplomatic lever. His ambitious plan to modernise Egypt required foreign expertise, and sensitive as he was to Western fascination with the country's ancient monuments, he charmed professionals to Egypt by offering them a free hand to collect whatever they wished . . . . Muhammad Ali is not exceptional among the leaders in the world in trading works of art or ancient monuments for know-how and technology. Until today objects remain diplomatic playthings in the hands of politicians. What is remarkable is the sheer volume of Egypt's ancient treasure that made its way abroad. The loss to archaeology and ancient history is staggering".
A fascinating article - well worth going to the above page to read the full story.