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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Grave Concern over Egyptian Museum treasures

I have been very concerned over the security of the Egyptian treasures housed in Egypt particularly the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and some of the Museums and temple and Tomb sites at Luxor. The current riots against the Mubarek regime have targeted government buildings opposite the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Museum was even broken into by thieves through a skylight and even some items were disgracefully looted and damaged including a statue of Tutankhamun (broken in two) and two 2,000 year old Mummies destroyed. Looters will be aware of the very high sums these items would fetch on the black market antiquities trade market. Given the ages quoted in the news, these Mummies destroyed must be Greco- Roman mummies and I sincerely hope not older mummies from New Kingdom era Ancient Egypt.
The treasures in this Museum are priceless and are world heritage archaeological items and many are in my opinion the best things that mankind has ever produced ie. the Golden mask of Tutankhamun is the most beautiful and iconic work of art ever produced.
More MUST be done to preserve these priceless world treasures. A review of security is urgently needed now.

UPDATE 30/1 I have now been able to get a few more details about the looting of the Cairo Museum. Several priceless artefacts from the Tutankhamun collection have been damaged including the statuette of Tutankamun standing on a Panther (a wonderful piece about a foot high) and another statuette of Tutankhamun as a harpooner standing on a bier (another wonderful piece also around a foot high). Authorities say these can be restored.
2 other pieces both around a foot tall of Tutankhamun (from the same museum display case) holding staff have also been damaged.
They are now stating 2 Pharaonic  mummies have been destroyed with only their heads still intact, they haven't named the mummies as yet, I fervently hope these weren't Royal Mummies from the New Kingdom. Looking at the footage the open gilded cartonnage top is strewn on the floor of what appears to be the covering of Tjuya's mummy from the New Kingdom, I hope it isn't her Mummy and that of her husband Yuya which has been looted and virtually destroyed apart from their heads. The Mummies of Yuya and Tjuya are (or were?) 2 of the finest preserved mummies from New Kingdom Egypt, they were the parents of Queen Tiye who was the Great Royal wife of Amenhotep 3. They were Tutankhamun's great- grand parents.
I also hope the exquisitely beautiful and unique gilded cartonnage mask of Tjuya wasn't damaged (it's very eye catching) or looted as this was placed directly opposite the mummy too.
Of equal concern is the systematic looting of artefacts from museums around the country including museums at Luxor, Abusir, Saqqara no further information is forthcoming.

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