Sunday, March 15, 2009

Controversy re return of Egypt's artifacts following theft of paintings from palace museum

Middle East Times (Joseph Mayton)

Items have been stolen from Egypt's museums before. In 2000, 619 Pharaonic artifacts were taken from the Egyptian Museum and smuggled into London via Switzerland. Five years earlier, thieves broke into a storeroom housing a number of artifacts at the Temple of Montu in Karnak and looted 55 scarabs and statues.

"Certainly, we have had a history of thefts, but this happens anywhere in the world where there are valuable items. Egypt is not alone in this," the aide said, after conferring with the culture minister.

Egypt is a prime target for international bandits due to corruption within the government and among the police guarding the national treasures.

A policeman who works near the famed Giza Pyramids told the Middle East Times last summer that his monthly salary was barely enough to keep his family from going hungry.

"So, I let the foreigners pay me a little extra and they can go places that are supposed to be off-limits," he admitted. He was adamant that he did not allow people to take items from the sands near the three massive structures.

"But I know some other policemen who work in other places who get a lot more money, because they let people take stuff while they look the other way," he said.

In recent years, Cairo has gone out of its way to pressure European nations to return artifacts that had been taken from the country during the colonial period beginning with Napoleon's invasion in 1798.

The international community has expressed apprehension about returning items currently being shown in their museums. They argue that Egypt is not able to safely house all the priceless artifacts.

See the above page for the full story.

1 comment:

Ben Morales-Correa said...

I read these news and it sounded more like opinions than fact. The artwork stolen had nothing to do with Egyptian antiquities.