Sunday, March 27, 2011

Items stolen and recovered from Luxor's Temple of Amenhotep III

Dr. Maria Nilsson & Dr. John Ward (West Bank, Luxor) reported on Saturday 19th March that the magazines next to the colossi of Memnon were broken into early that morning after having tied up the guards. Preliminary reports said that 15 items are missing from a German magazine. The objects that were stolen from the area of the colossi of Memnon were unearthed by archaeologists earlier in March, items that had not yet been published. Amongst the items missing is a of a head of a statue of Amenhotep III and a head of a statue of Sekhmet.

Jane Akshar provided news from the Luxor antiquities department too, with photos of the stolen items. Luxor News Blog.

Times have changed in Egypt. I read on Facebook about the theft from the Amenhotep III storerooms and phoned Mostafa Wazery to find out what had happened. I immediately got the entire story and he invited me to go to his office. There he showed me pictures of the stolen objects. What a change from pre revolutionary days when everything would have to be referred to Cairo for permission. The story. At 3:35 am the 4 guards at the storeroom at Kom el Hetan, the area behind the colossus of Memnon were attacked. Two objects were stolen.. One statue was 38 cms high and a portrait of Amenhotep III the other was more damaged. Armed men attacked the guards with sub machine guns and chloroform, the guards defended the storeroom but were unable to stop the robbery. Mostafa Wazery was on site by 4am and has been there ever since.

Luxor Times also reported on the break-in, with the great news that the stolen items seemed to have been recovered.

As it was the early hours of Saturday when they did their attack, it was also the early hours of Sunday when the police in co-operation with the army arrested 3 men of the group and working on arresting the other. The 2 statues were retrieved from the main suspect’s house in Nag’ Khalifa,Qurna where one of the thugs lives. The arrested men names as follows: Ahmed Zot (Sculptor), Shaban Taya Ahmed (Farmer), Hassan El azb Hassan El rawi (nephew of the main man) and Mahmoud Hassan Abo Elmagd (drives a microbus No. 2963 Luxor). They are going to stand for a military trial in Qena.

As exclusive news to Luxor Times, our reporter, Nermeen Nagdi, got a statement from a police source said there were only 8 men with machine guns not 11 nor 15 men with sticks as it was mentioned in some media sources and they attacked the 2 guards who were on the eastern side of the site, tied them with their own scarves before they drug them and when another guards went over to bring his colleagues tea he was attacked and tied up too and they were locked in the security cabin.

And finally, Nevine El Aref on Ahram Online covered the recovery of the items, with an excellent photograph of the Sekhmet statue head.

Within 24 hours the Antiquities and Tourism Police, in collaboration with the Military Police Forces, succeeded in retrieving the two ancient Egyptian statues stolen yesterday from a warehouse on Luxor’s West Bank.

The statues were found hidden inside the home of Ahmed El Zot, the head of an armed gang, who is infamous for his dishonesty. Three other members of the gang are also in custody.

Mansour Boreik, supervisor of Luxor’s monuments, relates that last night an armed gang attacked the warehouse of the European/Egyptian excavation mission of Amenhotep III’s temple. The gang members gave the guards anaesthetic shots, tied them up and entered the warehouse with ease. They stole a bust of the lioness god, Sekhmet, deity of war and another granite statue of an ancient Egyptian god. They also broke several while escaping with the goods.

Boreik said that the police came onto the site immediately and with comprehensive investigations succeeded in catching the head of the gang and three other members.

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