Sunday, March 27, 2011

The situation at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Rather than post a series of links in my usual way I have aggregated all the news items about the Egyptian Museum from the last two weeks to form some sort of narrative. I hope that this helps readers to get a coherent idea of what has been happening.

On 15h March, according to Al Masry Al Youm, it was announced that a total of 54 items had been stolen from the Museum, contradicting earlier official reports that at first no items and then 18 items had been stolen.

On March 15th Hawass addressed UNESCO, asking for assistance from the international community in ensuring that looted items failed to reach the antiquities market.
Fortunately many organizations and institutions had raised awareness of this issue from the first unofficial reports that looting might be taking place, and hopefully their hard work will benefit Egypt in the long run.

On 18th March Hawass announced that 12 items had been returned to the Egyptian Museum, thanks to careless behaviour of these in posession. The items returned included six Late Period bronze statuettes to the Late Period, a small limestone statue of a sphinx, and five necklaces. Those in possession of the items attempted to verify their authenticity with a young archaeologist who alerted the authorities.

On 19th March Paul Barford reported on his recent visits to the Egyptian Museum on his Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues blog (Paul, couldn't you have come up with a shorter name? :-) ). He says that additional security checks are made, that the museum is full of tourism police and plains clothes security people and that "the museum is in about the same state as it was a month ago, except the blood stains have gone from the floor and showcase glass". He raises a number of interesting points about the security of the museum when it was looted.

On 20th March the SCA released what they say is the complete list, in PDF format, of the missing items, complete with photographs, catalogue numbers, provenance and other useful information concerning each item. There are 42 items on the list.

On 27th March Hawass said that he was organizing descriptions and photographs of all missing items (from the museum and elsewhere) so that they could be recognized and hopefully located.

Also today, the 27th, Paul Barford has written an assessment of the looting of the museum, on his blog, gleaned from all the available data released so far and observed by himself at the museum, focusing on the pattern of the thefts. With diagram.

No comments: