Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tuesday - updates as they arrive

22:31 - Statement from the Egypt Cultural Heritage Organization. I've posted it in full at the request of ECHO (minus photos and logos) because the ECHO website has not yet been updated:

Egypt is rich in cultural heritage that can be traced from the remote prehistoric past through the various stages of world civilisation. Ancient Egypt's monuments link us to the past and make us aware of past human achievements. It is our duty to protect and preserve this heritage so that we, and future generations, can share in this historical legacy of our predecessors.

The Nile Valley and Delta were the birthplace of one of the first and most resilient of the great civilizations. In the course of its long and distinguished history, Egypt has bequeathed to us a legacy of spectacular monuments and a dazzling array of artefacts. However, unimposing sites and objects of everyday life also provide an invaluable insight to the various aspects of ancient Egyptian society and are just as important as the more spectacular sites and 'treasures'. Today, such archaeological sites and monuments all over Egypt are facing one of the biggest threats since the Second World War. With the revolutionary demonstrations now taking place some opportunistic looters are taking advantage of Egypt’s turmoil. Moreover, structured looting by organised criminals also seems to have also taken place. The archaeological record is a finite resource, which is easily destroyed without due care and respect.

The wave of social uprisings against authoritarian regimes started by the martyrdom of Mohammed Bouzizi in Tunisia has now moved to Egypt. Although most of the media attention has been focused on Cairo, demonstrations have been occurring throughout the country. Along with these demonstrations some people have grabbed the opportunity to profit out of other people’s misery. Many groups have arisen to protect their property, livelihoods and their lives. However, this transitional crisis period will not last forever and when Egypt emerges at the other end the majority of people want a functional country, one with their heritage still intact! The vast majority of the protesters only want a their human rights, dignity and freedom so that they can attain a better standard of living, along with free and fair democratic elections; some have already paid with their lives for this ideal.

Looting and wanton destruction of Egypt’s cultural heritage has been widespread, with many rumours circulating. As we are writing reports of looting keep coming in, our Egyptian colleagues helped by the local population are trying their hardest to keep the situation under control. However the lack of manpower is taking its toll and we are now aware that the Memphis Museum and magazine in South Saqqara have been looted. The staff at Saqqara rang Wafaa el-Sadik, the ex-director of the Cairo Museum in desperation for advice as they were unable to stop the looters. The museum at Memphis consists of a sculpture garden, where a colossus of Ramesses II is held in a special shelter, with other smaller objects at the actual Museum. It is currently unclear as to the extent of the looting and whether the looters were able to steal major objects or simply those more portable items in the display cases. It appears that only the nearby Imhotep Museum and adjacent central areas were being guarded by the military at this point, although the security has now been extended to the whole of the area. The magazine at Abusir has also been looted, as has the one at Qantara near the Suez Canal where a large group, armed with guns and a truck, entered the store, opened the boxes in the magazine and took many artefacts. In the past few days 288 objects have been recovered from the Qanatara magazine, whichic largely held Greaco-Roman artefacts. This is the vast majority of the items stolen. Attempted break-ins also occurred at several other museums in the country, including the Coptic Museum, the Royal Jewellery Museum, the National Museum of Alexandria and the El-Manial Museum. Hawass said none of the attempts were successful. It is hard at this point to verify all information, but it is clear the situation is continuing and all monuments and storerooms are under threat. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they were staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who joined in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters. However, the library like the museums will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and the situation improves.

The authorities elsewhere are taking precautions to secure antiquities with the military restricting access to the pyramids at Giza. However, the vast amount of sites in Egypt makes this an impossible task at every site. Although the monuments in Luxor, on both the East and West Bank are now being protected by the military assisted by caring members of the local community, with barriers also having been erected, a group of looters attempted to enter Karnak temple on Friday but were repelled by local citizens. However, there are an incredible number of sites and monuments everywhere in Egypt, as well as the countless artefacts in museums and storerooms requiring protection. Dr Zahi Hawass has stated that all 24 national museums were now under the protection of the Army. However, there are many more local museums and magazines that are under threat.

At the Cairo Museum located in Tahrir Square in the midst of some of the most intense of the mass anti-government protests sweeping across the capital the situation is stable, but things could get worse. Near to the museum is the large tower block that serves as the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) was set ablaze and after that the five-star Conrad Hotel. Although the fires are now out, while the buildings were blazing it caused a great threat to the museum. At 6 pm on Friday after virtually all police abandoned their posts, people began to climb over the walls, about a thousand would-be looters started entering the grounds surrounding the museum and forced open the doors and entered the museum's vast souvenir shop. The only damage that these looters managed to do appears to have been to the ticket office and the museum gift shop was cleared of all its trinkets and books. The perpetrators of the looting of this gift shop appear to have been security guards and tourist police who had removed their uniforms. Although the actions of certain members of the tourist police and museum guards are indefensible under any circumstances, as Dr el-Sadik stated, “these are poorly paid members of staff, some receiving as little as L.E. 250 (£30) per month, not having enough money to clothe and feed their families”.

The valiant efforts of ordinary Egyptian citizens taking a stand to protect the heritage of which they are so proud, here forming a ring around the Cairo Museum. Although some damage has been done, it could have been much worse without their help. Other people are taking stands in Luxor and elsewhere to protect their heritage from would-be looters (Source AFP).

A group of nine criminals broke into the actual museum, apparently entering it from the back, up a fire escape before coming in through the skylight, descending into the building via ropes late on the night of Friday 28th January. These would-be looters in their lust for profit managed to vandalise two mummies by ripping their heads off, originally erroneously reported as Yuya and Thuya (grandparents of Tutankhamun). Other display-cases were attacked and several other artefacts, including jewellery, cosmetic and toiletry items, a wooden boat from the tomb of Meseti at Asyut, Middle Kingdom models of daily life including a boat also from the tomb of Meseti, a shabti figurine, a bronze statuette of the Apis bull, a faience hippopotamus figurine from Lisht and a fan belonging to Tutankhamun were also smashed and sarcophagi were displaced. Three gilded statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun were also badly damaged, one depicting him riding a leopard, another of him fishing in a papyrus skiff and the third possibly a standing statue of the boy king. At least 13 Late period showcases were smashed before the criminals entered the famous King Tutankhamun galleries and smashed another case. The damage to other antiquities is still unclear, but Middle Kingdom cases were also attacked. The museum is full of very fragile artefacts: wigs, papyri, linen items, and thousands of other organic objects that cannot be moved, let alone withstand careless handling. These criminals were mainly looking for gold artefacts, which is why Tutankhamun’s gilded statues were targeted. Whilst these criminals were running amok in the museum a large group of the protesters, some armed with truncheons taken from the police, formed a protective human chain outside the museum's main gates early on Saturday morning. These protestors had taken it upon themselves to guard Egypt’s cultural heritage from opportunistic looters. This human cordon remained in place until soldiers rounded up the would-be looters. Later that Saturday morning Dr Hawass went to the museum to assess the damage, and he calculates that between 70-100 artefacts appear to have been broken, and the keys to the museum were also stolen. He went on to state the majority of the museum’s exhibits remain unaffected, including the remainder of the Tutankhamun exhibit. Not all the tourist police appear to have joined in, and three conscientious officials who had stayed behind in the museum throughout the night had caught and bound one of the nine looters who had smashed through the roof. Zahi Hawass has reassured the world that nothing was stolen from the Cairo Museum and that the damage appeared limited, other reports indicate some jewellery may have been taken. The grounds of the museum are now patrolled by Egyptian military, which we hope will protect it from any further looting episodes. It appears now that about 50 people have been arrested in connection with these attempted looting cases.

The looting of finite cultural heritage is not the way to bring about social change and improve the standard of life, for theft goes against all Islamic and Christian ideals and teachings as well as Egyptian law. The security at museums was highlighted last year, after the theft of a Van Gogh painting from an art gallery in Cairo, seemingly orchestrated by fifteen Egyptian officials, including the director of the museum and the head of the fine arts department at the Ministry of Culture. As widespread looting of other buildings in Cairo has been reported, the concerns of the government, as well as the majority of the crowd in the streets over the safekeeping of Egypt’s cultural heritage are well-grounded. Moreover, as the prison near the Faiyum was opened and common criminals escaped, the potential for greater loss has increased.

More serious than the looting of museums and magazines are the reports of that most destructive of crimes against cultural heritage, the looting of archaeological sites. At both Abusir and Saqqara many sealed tombs have been entered by thieves, destroying many of the tombs interiors and taking artefacts. Some of these tombs at Saqqara act as storerooms for many of the artefacts excavated from the tombs of the Old Kingdom officials. The storerooms at Abusir contain many royal artefacts excavated from the royal burial ground, which contains the majority of the pyramids of the Vth Dynasty kings. Large gangs of men have been reported as digging day and night at these sites. The situation at present is still unclear, although it now seems the army has now largely secured this region. Saqqara, the main cemetery for the ancient capital of Memphis has priceless tombs from Egypt’s entire history, from the First Dynasty until the Coptic era. It is essential that this site is protected at all costs. Before the site of Giza was secured some archaeological equipment seems to have been stolen, and that some damage seems to have been done to the antiquities, although the extent is not known at this point. Several sites around Alexandria also appear to have been looted, but the military is now protecting them all. At the famous Late Period site of San el-Hagar in the East Delta, where important 21st and 22nd Dynasty tombs are located, local citizens are protecting it, as they are at Tell el-Dab’a. Looting is not a new phenomenon in Egypt, although the scale and audacity of the looting is on a scale never before seen in the country. Having seen one such site in the Faiyum that had been looted in 2003, where parts of mummies littered the surface, purposely smashed artefacts strewn all around, and a site that looked like a moonscape it is heartbreaking to think of the potential damage to Saqqara and other sites. The looting of any site results in artefacts and monuments loosing their contexts and as such their archaeological value. Once removed from their context they loose their ability to provide potential information about the people who made the cultural heritage. It is still unclear what is happening at the thousands of sites throughout the country, but the SCA inspectors are promising to protect their own sites with the aide of the military.

Although the situation in Egypt is nowhere near as bad as that which unfolded in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, when thousands of artefacts were looted and many sites destroyed, the situation is still serious. There are unscrupulous people that are determined to make the most of this situation and line their own pockets whilst robbing Egypt and the world of invaluable items of cultural heritage. Several antiquities and monuments have been saved due to the efforts ordinary Egyptians, but also due to the efforts of the 3,000 people directly employed by the SCA, as well as others that work in the heritage industry. From what we have learned from the situation in Iraq, which threatens to be repeated in Egypt, regardless of the fact that the majority of the Egyptians are proud of their long history and are very protective of their cultural heritage, the situation calls for creating an international action response plan to protect the cultural heritage in these situations. In the current troubles where there is widespread looting of shops and violence, and a long curfew aimed at preventing movement of people, the majority of Egypt’s citizens have other priorities. However, a country can only hope to progress in the future if it understands and learns from its past. Although many Egyptians want to assert a new identity, they also seem to want it built on their historic past.

Dr Hawass is now directing a team to assess the damage at Saqqara and other outlying sites where archaeological digs have been conducted. We hereby call on the US and European Governments to send teams to help the Supreme Council of Antiquities to help make these damage reports and help with restorations as soon as it is safe to do so. ECHO is willing to participate in a co-ordinated effort by Dr Hawass, hopefully in combination with UNESCO, ICOM and ICCROM in assessing and rectifying damage to cultural heritage. This will be a very costly process and will require emergency governmental funds and private donations. However, at present the majority of excavations with foreign personnel appear to have been temporally halted, such as those at Abydos, Amarna, Luxor and Giza, although we hear of a few that are still continuing on the West Bank at Thebes and possibly that the excavations at Hierakonpolis are still going ahead. Some of the teams are waiting for flights out of the country, whereas others are sitting tight trying to protect their sites. The SCA will make an official statement about foreign missions working in Egypt on Sunday. However, the general feeling is that this will soon be resolved and that operations will again shortly be resumed, the teams of archaeologists are determined to support Egypt and its people in its hour of need, just as many supported us when we needed them.

Dr Hawass and his team of dedicated archaeologist aided by local community members and the military are trying their best to protect the sites and monuments, but it is inevitable that some antiquities will make their way on to the illicit antiquities market. Many antiquities are world famous and well published making them harder to sell; however, there are many hundreds of thousands that are not that well published and even more that have not been excavated as part of an organised legitimate excavation. There are probably some unscrupulous antiquities dealers and private collectors who are rubbing their hands at the prospect of attaining new Egyptian antiquities, it is the responsibility of all decent law abiding people to be diligent. If any Egyptian antiquities are offered for sale that have a dubious provenance it is the responsibility of every museum and individual to report the sellers straight away to the proper authorities. In the USA the officials from the Department of Homeland Security, in the UK Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise must be extra diligent. The freeports in Switzerland as well as those in other European countries and Japan should all be working with Egyptologists and the SCA to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and that no illicit antiquities enter their countries. These criminals must not be allowed to profit from their crimes against humanity.

If you suspect that an antiquity is looted or you see any looting taking place you should contact the police, the Art Loss Register on www.artloss.com, Interpol on www.interpol.com, CultNat (www.cultnat.org) or the SCA (0020(2)7365645 or 0020(2)6859253), failing that you can contact Dr Marina Apaydin, Deputy Director Management, UNESCO World Heritage Centre at m.apaydin@unesco.org, Monica Hanna Monica_h@aucegypt.edu, Monica.hanna@gmail.com, 00393282069816, Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) on cho@savingantiquities.org or ECHO (www.e-c-h-o.org) on egyptianheritage@yahoo.co.uk and we will notify the correct legal authorities on your behalf. Our friends at Looting Matters will also be monitoring this situation very closely. Although this comment from ECHO focuses on archaeological sites, artefacts and museums in Egypt, our first concerns are for the Egyptian people who have demonstrated their wish for social change. There are many heroes in Egypt, some of whom are our friends and colleagues, that are helping to protect Egypt’s heritage, for it is the world’s heritage, and the world send their thanks to all of you.

May God be with the good people of Egypt; our thoughts and prayers are with you!

21:57 - Egyptian Mummy Damage - statement from Bob Brier. I have no web link for this I'm afraid - it was emailed to me.

Statement from American Exhbitions Inc. and Mummies Of The World Regarding Damage to Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo

February 1, 2011 – In light of this weekend’s looting in Egypt and damage to some of the world’s most priceless treasures at the Cairo Museum, Marc Corwin, president of American Exhibitions, Inc., producer of Mummies of the World, the largest collection of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the devastation that took place at the Cairo Museum this past weekend. It is heartbreaking not only for our contemporaries in Egypt, but for the world as a whole. It is of crucial importance to preserve such items as these ancient artifacts and mummies given the impact they have not only for the advancement in science, but also as to their purpose in serving as a window to past cultures. Their historical value is priceless, and our hearts are a bit heavier knowing that these irreplaceable antiquities have been damaged, perhaps never to be enjoyed by or used for scientific studies for future generations.”

Dr. Bob Brier, one of the world's foremost experts on mummies and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University adds, “The Cairo Museum is home to thousands of historical treasures. Anyone who has had the privilege of visiting the Museum knows these are some of the most prized artifacts in the world. These are not just abstract objects; we know these pieces. I’ve stood in front of their cases, talked about them to my students. To see these artifacts lying smashed on the floor is deeply troubling. Even worse for me is to see mummies of such great historical importance damaged.”

Dr. Brier continues, “The public must understand how important it is to protect the mummies of the world. Mummies are like little encyclopedias; if one knows how to read them, they contain vast amounts of invaluable information. We are seeing this now in Cairo and surrounding areas as civilians join forces with the military to protect the vast number of tombs, monuments and temples throughout Egypt, standing as guardians of a heritage that is significant to the world.”

21:35 - I promised to keep these posts non-political but it is impossible not to mention that, as you will all know by now, Mubarak has decided to hang on to power until the September/October elections (and presumably hope that the problem will quietly vanish in the mean time). We will just have to wait and see how the Egyptians react.
There's an intersting and worrying article on Al Jazeera about how the widespread use of social networks on the web for organizing the protest may lead to a change in policy about Internet usage in Egypt.

19:11 - Many thanks to Alejandro Jimenez Serrano for this link to the El Mundo website which says that one of the teams returning home from Luxor is the Djehuty Project, whose excellent dig diary ceased to be updated last week. The Spanish excavations at Heracleopolis Magna (Faiyum) and the funerary temple of Tuthmosis III (Luxor) have also been suspended for the time being.

17:50 - Thanks very much to The Art of Counting for another useful update. Amongst other things the blog reports that Richard Wilkinson, now back from Luxor, has said that as in Cairo the NDP headquarters have been burned and that tanks are in the streets. The military and informal watch schemes are protecting some sites but some Nile-side sites and their storage magazines have been looted. Maarten Raven has said that sites where the Dutch team have been working at Saqqara have been looted, although this seems to be based on unofficial reports.

16:47 - Thanks very much to Ingeborg Waanders for this horrifying article on The Sun (UK tabloid) which is sensationalist in tone but carries worrying information. In summary it says that thieves gathered at the House of the Temple of Osiris near the Abusir pyramids, in a rush started when one looter announced that he had found treasure. The article says that thieves swarmed over the site, "digging and smashing their way into tombs with picks and shovels" with serious damage at the tombs of the pharaohs of Neferefre and Sahure.

16:43 - CNN has one of many reports about the new service to help those in Egypt without Internet access to get messages out: "Google has launched the latest salvo in an effort to overcome internet blackouts in Egypt during anti-government protests there. ' Like many people we've been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground," Google said on its official blog. The result was a collaboration between Google, Twitter and SayNow (a service Google acquired last week) to let people without access to the Web share messages on Twitter via voice mail.The service, which is live now, offers three international phone numbers to call -- +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855.' "

16:25 - In an article entitled Amid Violence in Egypt, An Electronic Eye on Museums The Atlantic reports on the new Facebook page of the Egyptologists for Egypt group: "This Egyptologists group is comprised of hundreds of archaeologists, anthropologists, restorers, technicians, and other Egypt-enthusiasts, both prominent and amateur, focused on tracking the state of Egypt's rich archeological history. While other organizations have called upon Egypt's government to protect its cultural heritage, the group is half discussion forum, half ad hoc news aggregator, featuring up-to-the-minute updates on the state of Egypt's cultural institutions".

- Many sincere thanks to Justine James for letting me know about the current status of various teams in who says that much of the following information is from the ARCE page on Facebook as of about 19 hours ago together with some updates that she has found out from other sources. The US State Dept is still recommending that Americans leave and providing chartered flights for US citizens out of Cairo. She believes (unconfirmed) that US citizens who want to depart from cities other than Cairo are still having to make travel arrangements via private carrier. The Australian/Austrian project at Helwan, and the Australian projects in Luxor, Saqqara, and Tehna are pulling out. Most of the Epigraphic Survey (U of Chicago) is staying in Luxor (as of later yesterday) although some have opted to leave and will hopefully be able to depart today. The Johns Hopkins team working at the temple of Mut in Luxor has mostly departed. Roger Bagnall is leaving Dakhleh Oasis, but it is not known whether his team is staying or departing with him. Renee Friedman at Hierakonpolis staying. There are reports of looting at El Hibeh (American project, director is Carol Redmount from UC Berkeley).

- There's another update from Hawass on his website (with thanks to Daniel Jackson for the heads-up):

Yesterday, Dr. Zahi Hawass was appointed as the Minister of Antiquities, a newly created department that will be charged with the care and protection of all Egyptian monuments and museums. This department will absorb the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Dr. Zahi will continue excavating, writing books, and representing his country.

The following statement was made by Dr. Hawass this morning:

I would like to tell the people, all over the world, the good news: the storage magazine that was looted in Qantara, in the Sinai, has had 288 objects returned! I cannot say exactly how many objects were lost, but it seems that the majority of what was stolen has been returned.

I would like to say that we were afraid that sites around Alexandria were robbed, but the military is now protecting them all. Also, the site of San el-Hagar in the Delta, where important 21st and 22nd Dynasty tombs are located, is being protected by the local Egyptians. More good news comes from Saqqara, where a committee reported that, although outlaws did open the padlocks of tombs there, they did not enter the tombs or cause any damage; everything is safe. The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, is fine, too. A total of seventy objects have been broken, but the museum was dark and the nine robbers did not recognise the value of what was in the vitrines. They opened thirteen cases, threw the seventy objects on the ground and broke them, including one Tutankhamun case, from which they broke the statue of the king on a panther. However, the broken objects can all be restored, and we will begin the restoration process this week.

The commanders of the army are now protecting the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and all of the major sites of Egypt (Luxor, Aswan, Saqqara, and the pyramids of Giza) are safe. The twenty-four museums in Egypt, including the Coptic and Islamic museums in Cairo, are all safe, as well. I would like to say that I am very happy to see that the Egyptian people, young and old, stood as one person against the escaped prisoners to protect monuments all over the country. The monuments are safe because of both the army and the ordinary people.

Some foreigners think Egypt is not interested in protecting our monuments and museums, but that is not true, at all. Egypt has 5,000 years of civilisation, and we love our heritage. I want to send a message to the people of Egypt: all of you are responsible, to ultimately be judged by your own history, to protect your monuments, and should not permit ignorance or outlaws to damage our history – it is the most important thing we own. I am sure the bells from the churches are ringing now, and the voices from the minarets of mosques are calling, to say that Egypt is a safe place to live.

We all believe Egypt will be safe.

- Trains are cancelled again today, as are all bus services between cities.

- The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has released a statment about the current events in Egypt, concluding "All of us who are friends of Egypt can help the efforts to stop looting of archaeological sites, stores and museums, by focusing on the international antiquities trade. There would be no looting without the appetite of US and European collectors, museums, auction-houses and cargo authorities. The Egyptian antiquities' authorities have full teams of conservators and archaeologists already, but the international community needs to give maximum cooperation against the illegal trade in antiquities".

11:19 - Thanks to Raymond Betz on an EEF update (via Jan Picton) for the information that the Belgian mission of the "Centre interdisciplinaire d'études des religions et de la laïcité" from the University of Brussels has cancelled its epigraphic study at the second pylon of Karnak. The only member of the team who has already arrived in Luxor is Emmanuel Serdiuk, and he is remaining in his hotel.

10:33 - Thanks very much to Dr Christian Knoblauch for the information that the University of Michigan Abydos Project (Janet Richards and co.) is now heading home.

10:08 - I've just gone through all the dig diaries for which I have links but the only website that has an update is saqqara.nl, which says that in view of the current situation the Leiden team has cancelled their February 2011 season at Saqqara. At present the team has no more news than anyone else about the situation at the site itself.

10:01 - Thanks to Joris for the link to Austrian derStandard with the information, amongst other things, that the Austrian Archaeological Institute has decided to stop all work, but that all six employees are remaining in Egypt at the moment It also says that the Cairo Institute is in constant contact with teams outside Cairo, including Aswan where some disruptions have been reported but the team are remaining there to avoid the chaos at Cairo airport.

09:52 - Thanks to Ingeborg Waanders for this summary of the current situation on the CNN website. I don't think that there's anything new in here but if you've only just had the chance to catch up with the latest news this is a very good precis.

09:36 - The National reports that looters attempted to access a storage facility at Karnak but were repulsed. The article also emphasises conflicting information about Saqqara. On the one hand a site supervisor, Ragad Turkey, reported that looters managed to break into several storage facilities and stole or damaged wall carvings in areas that were under excavation, but had failed to break into the main storage depot and several other facilities. On the other hand a government agency spokesman says that the reports of looting are untrue. The military now seem to have things in hand at Saqqara: "At Saqqara, military officers yesterday led an impromptu tour of the security measures they have put in place. Since troops arrived on Sunday morning, steel doors have been welded shut, and soldiers have been deployed to guard the 10-square-kilometre site. Each night, the soldiers chase off people who come to dig for relics, the officers said. But the site remains well guarded and most of the diggers are just local children." The article states that the nearby pyramid field of Abusir seems to be unprotected: "no security officers or soldiers could be seen. A man who refused to give his name but described himself as an Egyptologist said that the site was too dangerous to enter because gangs of men were still there, digging for antiquities. They were unlikely to find anything valuable, he added, as all of the valuable artefacts had already been transferred to the storage facilities at Saqqara".

09:06 - The Art of Counting website reports, from a number of sources, that whilst at a number of locations work has stopped (as I mentioned yesterday - the DAI in Aswan, the Amarna Project in Middle Egypt, the EES in Luxor) excavations at Abydos and Antinoe continue uninterrupted for the time being, and Kent Weeks says that he has been given the go-ahead for work to carry on in the Valley of the Kings.

08:27 - A new Facebook page has been created which has a considerable amount of useful information Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum, and is being added to all the time. For example it is reported that Richard Fazzini and Mary McKercher are remainin in Luxor today until Monday 7th February and that they are apparently able to continue work at the Temple of Mut. The SSEA have reported that the site at El Hibeh been looted, but that guards are expected to arrive, Beni Suef Museum is safe and that there is no sign of trouble at Hierakonpolis. The SSEA also reports that "although there has been damage to a lot of currently open archaeological sites along the Nile, and many of their artifact storage magazines have been broken open and looted, Luxor's west bank sites have fared fairly well so far. The army is protecting the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and our dig site and several others near the Valley are being protected by local 'neighborhood watch' groups. As of now, none of the looters and illicit diggers have tried to cross their lines." See the above page for ongoing updates. Many thanks to both the Facebook group and all its contributors for all the information provided.

08:16 - The National Geographic has an article on both looting and those who have taken up the challenge to protect their heritage. It reports that local Alexandrians have been protecting both homes and public buildings, that in Luxor residents are defying the curfews to form barricades and ensure that monument are not looted. It says that a number of museums were broken into including the Coptic Museum and Manial Palace Museum in Cairo and the Royal Jewelry Museum and Alexandria National Museum in Alexandria. Hawass is downplaying the damage at Saqqara and says that all 24 national museums are now secure.

- Kate has created an important and potentially invaluable Looting Database on our new Egyptopaedia domain to record known (or strongly suspected) details of sites looted during the popular Egyptian uprising of January and February 2011. People have already started adding comments with additional information for each area on the Database menu. Fantastic job Kate! Here's what she says on the Welcome page (her contact details are avaialable on the above page):

The intention is to provide a site by site record of information as it becomes available. If you have any new information, please use the comment on the relevant page for the affected site; I will consolidate information into the text as soon as information can reasonably be verified. If you need another site adding, please record the information in the comments and I will set up a dedicated site page as soon as I can. I will also split and re-arrange pages as information comes in. Comments are arranged with the newest comments at the top to reflect any developing situations.

If a site isn’t listed, then there is no present news of damage or looting. If there is confirmation that a site is safe, I am trying to add that to reassure people.

You may also contact me using the comment form on this page, or by using my personal contact form to send me an email. If you would like editing permissions to help record information, please get in touch.

The site was established to respond to the fast-moving situation in Egypt. It is a working site, so please don’t expect lots of refinement. Information is provided on a best endeavours basis, but until the situation normalises little can be guaranteed.

07:51 - I had computer problems yesterday later afternoon and all evening (typically great timing) but please see Kate Phizackerely's "News from the Valley of the Kings Blog" for some important updates from last night:


Anonymous said...

Is there any information about Abydos? Obviously there has been contact to someone from there (news 10:33).

Daniel Jackson said...

News from Zahi Hawass


AliceG said...

Mistake. I don't think it's going to stop until he's gone or until somebody does him in. Sorry to say. That's the way of the world now. He's just killing the economy because who wants to go to a country where there is the potential for such violence? And without tourist, there is no economy. So the protests will just continue on and on. I would not like to be in his position and be so hated. He can't function as a world leader if he is despised by his own people. Sad.

Natalia K. said...

I can't identify this faces...


Who are they?

Andie, thanks so much for all of this informations!