Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

As reported yesterday, several objects in the Egyptian Museum have been vandalised including statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun.  For indentification of the affected artfects, Margaret Maitland at the Eloquent Peasant is keeping track and has photos.

To add to the concern, Antiquae Terrae has compiled a map of the rooms housing the vandalised artefacts shown in the Al Jazeera footage.  It is copyright so I cannot reproduce it here so follow the link and scroll down to see it.  Worryingly, the items shown are on three sides of the museum so there may be more damage in the areas we haven't seen.  As Andie Byrnes has reported, Wafaa el-Saddik reports that 13 cases had the glass smashed.  People are assuming these are the cases shown in the Al Jazzera footage, but this is incorrect as this video interview with Dr Hawass reveals.  He clearly states that:

  • 13 Late Period cases were opened (none of those shown in the video are late period), and
  • 1 case in the general Tutankhamun display was opened.  These statues are the ones seen vandalised in the video footage.
This strongly suggests that there is additional Late Period damage for which we have no photos or details.

Concerning is growing that the two assualted mummies were those of Yuya and Thuya but this is unclear.  I understand the concern, and they may have been damaged.  However, the intruders seemed to be after gold and if they had already raided the Late Period collection (that seems to be the sequence of events), then it could be late period mummies.

Dr Hawass has posted a press release on the damage:
I found out that one criminal was still at the museum, too.  When he had asked the people guarding the museum for water, they took his hands and tied him to the door that lead to the gift shop so that he could not escape!  Luckily, the criminals who stole the jewellery from the gift shop did not know where the jewellery inside the museum is kept.  They went into the Late Period gallery but, when they found no gold, they broke thirteen vitrines and threw the antiquities on the floor.  Then the criminals went to the King Tutankhamun galleries.  Thank God they opened only one case!  The criminals found a statue of the king on a panther, broke it, and threw it on the floor.  I am very thankful that all of the antiquities that were damaged in the museum can be restored, and the tourist police caught all of the criminals that broke into it. 
I am far from a fan of Hawass but in this case I am inclined to believe he does genuinely care.  What I found most interesting from somebody who is a Minister in the present Government is his statement that "The Egyptian people are calling for freedom, not destruction. "  Politically, that is not siding with Mubarak.

The Other Museums 

This is what Hawass has to say:
The curfew started again on Saturday afternoon at 4.00pm, and I was receiving messages all night from my inspectors at Saqqara, Dahsur, and Mit Rahina. The magazines and stores of Abusir were opened, and I could not find anyone to protect the antiquities at the site. At this time I still do not know what has happened at Saqqara, but I expect to hear from the inspectors there soon. East of Qantara in the Sinai, we have a large store containing antiquities from the Port Said Museum. Sadly, a large group, armed with guns and a truck, entered the store, opened the boxes in the magazine and took the precious objects. Other groups attempted to enter the Coptic Museum, Royal Jewellery Museum, National Museum of Alexandria, and El Manial Museum. Luckily, the foresighted employees of the Royal Jewellery Museum moved all of the objects into the basement, and sealed it before leaving.
 The news from Alexandria is actually encouraging, as there were reports it had burned down.  The losses ar Abusir and Saqqara are potentially huge losses.



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