Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Egypt's antiquities still at risk

npr (Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson)

Among the casualties of Egypt's revolution are many of its famous historical sites and artifacts.

Vandalism and looting at these sites skyrocketed in the weeks after the Egyptian police force — including those responsible for tourism and antiquities — vanished from their posts.

Even now, as the security forces resume their duties, archaeologists and experts complain that far more needs to be done by Egypt's new government to protect the country's heritage.

Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum suffered some of the worst damage. It is home to famous ancient Egyptian artifacts like the golden mask of the boy King Tutankhamen.

This heritage should be protected by everyone in Egypt and outside Egypt because this is for the whole world. It's the heritage of mankind.

- Tarek al-Awadi, director of the Egyptian Museum

Tourists, who are slowly returning, see few signs of the damage and looting that took place at the museum in late January. But the museum's deputy director, Mahmoud el Halwagi, says it feels like it happened yesterday. The veteran curator cringes when he recounts the events.

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