Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, January 30, 2011

Andie Byrnes has done a good job of keeping up with the news from the various museums during the evening.  I am impressed - because there are so few fully reliable sources so compiling something coherent takes a great deal of skill.

If you are just checking in, the biggest news is from the Egyptian Musuem in Cairo and saddly the news from there has all now been verified by TV coverage, Nine men, described as "convicts", broke in to the museum through the roof.  Dr Hawass says they broke open one case but TV coverage suggests rather more damage than that.  The worst damage was to items in the Tutankhamun collection.  Some of the wooden statues were smashed from their bases: Hawass believes they can be repaired.  I have also read reports (unverified) that the doors were ripped from the golden shrine and other furniture damaged/smashed.

They reached the musuem shop which they cleared out.  They came in through the roof and reached the shop on the ground floor so they roamed all of the museum.  They tried to steal two mummies.  When they lifted them, the heads fell off. (Story verified by TV interview with Dr Hawass and other TV coverage.)  It is suspected that the mumies were then dropped to the floor and very badly damaged.  The names of the mummies have not been released - but there are hints that they were mummies of two of the pharaohs from the Mummy Room.  (Other reports say they were "2000 years old", which might make them Ptolemaic /Roman..) I have no located some video for anybody who hasn't seen it.  I suspect there might be a slightly longer segment in circulation, but this is all I have seen myself so far.

This version is slightly longer, but I don't think there is much that isn't in the first video

(For completeness, some reports suggest that those who broke in were police, not convicts. Other stories claim that up to 1,000 people broke into the grounds and shop.)

There are unverified reports that Hawass is now camped out in the museum.  I have often been critical of the man, but his exhortations and efforts to protect the musuem might be his lastest legacy to the world and we may owe him a debt.  His latest concern is set out in this video, namely that the burnt out NDP Headquarters (the building you see burning in all TV coverage) could collapse onto the museum wrecking the museum and setting it on fire. 

For other museums, Andie has done a good job of gathering what news there is.

The common people deserve much of the credit for protecting musuems.  They formed a cordon around the national Egyptian Musuem, and reportedly other museums.  That's getting increasingly dangerous.  Residents' groups are forming gangs to try to protect their neightbourhoods from looting.  They are all armed.  I have just listened to an interview with one.  He and his neighbours all wear a white ribbon so they stand out and don't shoot each other.  That is the depths to which security has sunk.

There are now soldiers with machine guns inside the Egyptian Museum.  Hopefully they won't step on the fragments of statues, but their protection is welcome.  Tanks have also been sent to the Giza Pyramids (verified by TV coverage), the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, and to the Valley of the Kings (unverified).


tim said...

One of the images appears to show the cartonnage mummy cover of Thuyu lying on the floor next to one of their coffins?

Kate Phizackerley said...

I think you are right and it is Thuyu's coffin in the images but I cannot work out what is on the floor. It's a broken off piece of something.

Hopefully as people scan the videos they will help compile a list. I notice another statue underneath a display cabinet for instance which I had missed first time through.

Recent visitors might also remember the layout and whether items are lying close to their cases or whether they have been carried - which could indicate damage elsewhere in the museum.

tim said...

Nicholas Reeves "The complete valley of kings" on page 176 shows a picture of Thuyu with her cartonnage over her and it is the same object as that lying on the floor in the video. The piece next to it may well be a piece of a mummy. Lets hope not!

Scrabcake said...

The thing on the floor is the openwork frame placed over Thuyu's mummy. I'm thinking the two mummies vandalized were Yuya and Thuyu.

Anonymous said...

It cant be Yuya and Thuyu because Hawass stated that the two mummies were Pharonic, Y & T were commoners, though via their daughter wih royal connections

rymerster said...

Pharonic is being used in this context to refer to material from the Pharonic period (Old Kingdom to Cleopatra) rather than referring to a King of Egypt.

This phrase is used commonly by the Egyptian media to give a rough date to discoveries, for example the mummies recently found during maintenance of sewers.

Anonymous said...

Yes i realised that as soon as i had posted, ie as in pharonic era.
Its just a feeling of dread that i have that the two most beautifully preserved mummies in the cairo museum that have survived 3400 years with beautiful expressions on their faces cannot possibly have been destroyed by some sheer act of destruction. How can threy have not protected the most important artifacts in the world!

Marianne Luban said...

I have been watching American news channel, CNN, most of the morning and it seems to me that the size of the demonstration has gone way down. The Egyptian work week begins on Sunday and I think many have gone to protect their jobs because they're not easy to come by. Also CNN has been showing quite a bit of the same footage from yesterday and taking up time with talking heads. The main thing is, the burning building nearby has not fallen on the museum and I don't think there has been anymore trouble there. What a shame if something has happened to that venerable old pair, Yuya and Thuya, so wonderfully preserved for so long. I hope not.

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