Ancient Egyptain Artifacts Under Attack

Ancient Egyptain Artifacts Under Attack

Cairo : Egypt | Mar 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM PDT
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Pyramid of ancient queen of 2300BC

Ever since the revolt against the Egyptian "president" Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's antiquities have come under attack.

When the revolution began January 25, 2011, there only a few reports of looting: at Qantara East in the Sinai, and at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

The night of January 28, 2011 a large number of Egyptian citizens scaled the walls of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The people then, once inside the museum, began destroying property. It was reported that the mummies of Pharaoh Tutankhamun's grandparents had their heads popped off their bodies. Also, it was reported that many of the class cases holding priceless artifacts were smashed and the artifacts destroyed

In addition to the break-ins in the museum, many of the magazines that hold ancient artifacts have been looted as well. According to Dr. Zahi Hawass, of the Supreme council of antiquities, "March 1, 2011, criminals broke into the Selim Hassan magazine. These looters were carrying guns and the unarmed site guards quickly surrendered for fear of their lives."

Magazines in both Tell el-Basta and Wadi el-Feiran have been subject to breaking and entering. Site inspectors say they are taking careful inventories and comparing them to the records for each magazine.

Even now since the resignation of former president Mubarak, lootings and break-ins have increased. In a report on the break-ins Hawass hit the high points, "The tomb of Ken-Amun in Tell el-Maskhuta, near Ismailia, was completely destroyed. It is the only known 19thDynasty tomb in Lower Egypt. At Giza, near the Great Sphinx, the looters broke into the tomb of Impy. Vandals also attempted to destroy other buildings and tombs in Giza, but they were unsuccessful. In Saqqara, inscribed blocks and parts of the false door were stolen from the tomb of Hetepka. Inscribed blocks were also taken from the tomb of Ptahshepses in Abusir.The guards of sites in Nekhen, north of Edfu, caught several thieves. In Aswan, looters attempted to steal a statue of Ramesses II, but archaeologists and guards at the site apprehended them. A site in Northern Sinai was destroyed when looters arrived with a loader. Looters have attacked Abydos nearly every night; illegal excavations and trenches, some as deep as five meters, have damaged the site. Reports of illegal construction have been reported near the pyramid of Merenre and the Mastaba Fara’un, near Saqqara. Many sites, including Alexandria, Ismailia, Saqqara, Behaira, Sharqia, Abusir and Dahshur, have reported illegal excavations, some of which have taken place at night."

According to Dr. Hawass, as of March 25, 2011, twelve of the missing artifacts from the Cairo Museum have been returned. It was said that the looters in possession of the stolen artifacts tried to sell them to a young archaeologist who recognized the artifacts. The archaeologist, whose name is not being released, took pictures of the artifacts with his mobile phone contacted the police and the museum. Soon after the people were arrested.

In the mists of all the chaos one thing remains clear, the destroying of historical artifacts MUST stop.

Angela Conlin is based in Birmingham, Alabama, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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