A thriving market for antiquities in the west is behind the looting of Egypt's heritage, says Barry Kemp, who describes the fraught situation on the ground
Where is your dig site?
I work at Amarna, the short-lived capital built by "heretic" pharaoh Akhenaten in the 14th century BC. The site is a beautiful stretch of desert, bordered by high cliffs. We are working to map, excavate and repair the ancient buildings.
How did you hear about Egypt's uprisings?
On Saturday 29 January we received a police order to close down. We packed up our equipment on Sunday and most of the expedition was evacuated to Cairo on Monday. I and one other team member stayed behind.
What steps did you take to protect Amarna?
Because of attacks on archaeological sites elsewhere in Egypt, the police asked us to block the entrances to our storerooms. Workmen built a wall of limestone blocks across the iron doors, covering the main one with cement so it appears impregnable. On 5 February we finally travelled to Cairo, where I live. As we drove through the western desert, life seemed to be proceeding as normal, although the trains were not running.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Interview with Barry Kemp re looting
New Scientist (Jo Marchant)