Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, February 17, 2011

The New York Times reports that the statue was found in the rubbish in Tahrir Square and that Dr Hawass will make a formal announcement today.  All the rubbish from the square is to be searched.

Dr Hawass claims that this is evidence the museum raid was undertaken by ignorant vandals and was not a targeted theft.  The difficulty with that explanation is that initial reports explicitly listed the statue as damaged and not stolen so there are suspicions that the Akhenaten statue was a secondary theft.

Still it is back.

There are separate reports that the recovered Yuya ushabti was found beneath a vitrine inside the museum and not on the ground outside.  I haven't identified the original source but it doesn't seem to be critical information.

According to the NY Times, today's statement from Dr Hawass will address the accusations that he was too slow to report that items were missing and stated nothing had been stolen although it is now clear that such an assertion was not based on facts.  I wish him luck, but his difficulty is that the thefts were not reported until after Mubarak had gone.  Unless he addresses that political dynamic, I suspect any explanation will be viewed with scepticism.


Anonymous said...

Whether the various thefts of antiquities in Egypt occurred pre the revolution, were planned thefts during the disturbances, or just opportunistic lootings, the effective security in the various sites and museums still remains the paramount question in the minds of Egyptian nationals and of the world's concerned.

How seriously is security taken? How much high technological devices and innovation is used to protect museum buildings, on-site locations and storage facilities? What's the expenditure in relation to income brought in by Egyptian heritage? How much state expenditure in security is annually relegated to these sites? Are state and private security guard personnel at these sites adequately trained and adequately paid in relation to the supreme importance of the national (and international) treasures they are guarding?

From the start of the revolution, Dr Hawass has himself daily courted the press. Coming out in national and international media with disjointed statements regarding non-missing, now missing artefacts. The confused piecemeal explanations have served to generate worldwide confusion revealing a lack of control and a lack of a grip as to what actually is going on. And who best now to manage things.

What doesn't go away, and is yet to be addressed, are the urgent questions relating to antiquities security issues in Egypt. Security measures in light of recent events have made questionable Dr Hawass's demands that all Egyptian artifacts be returned to Egypt. It has certainly highlighted the fact that some objects have been more secure outside the country and in touring exhibitions than within.
(Patricia Linton)

Anonymous said...

So we should crucify Hawass for being overly optimistic, but yet it's fine that the rest of the archaeological community was happy to report that sites had been broken into when they clearly had not been. Only Hawass should be held at his word, while the naysayers and negative people like Jane (sorry, but it's true) who report things with absolutely no evidence are considered more reliable than he is.


Kate Phizackerley said...

As I have said, it was obvious within 24 hours that some reports overstated damage; others understated it. That is partly why I created the looting database and put reports side by side so that people could make their own assessment. I have also done everything I can to get independent reports. It's routine to expect two sources (and I count all of the SCA as one source), or one, respected, independent source. That's what I will continue to do when I update the Looting Database tonight.

However, it's easy to understand some of the differences. Tombs in Saqqara were looted, but seemingly not of reliefs. I've chosen not to make an issue of it, but I believe that there was a fire at the Egyptian Museum - but only in a detached outbuilding. Pretty much the outcome seems to fall between the the two extremes of the earliest reports.

Anonymous said...

I think Hawass can survive if he changes his attitude and focuses on security and preservation. One thing he will have to stop though is his campaign to repatriate objects in foreign museums back to Egypt. No museum in their right mind is going to send priceless artifacts back, ie the bust of Nefertiti, for them to end up at best in the garbage and at worst smashed to smithereens or in the hands of a private collector.

Anonymous said...

What came across most potently this week during the crowds of Egyptian Archaeologists protesting outside the Cairo Museum, was their anger and depth of despair at a very rotten system in terms of employment.

Many had the same story, which we heard on television time and again. High graduate and post graduate qualification holders, routinely passed over in favour of the less qualified with "'connections', financial lubrication, or some other pull". That even those that are in employment receive abysmally low salaries (esp in relation to their professional positions in discovering and maintaining Egypt's highest foreign income earnings). When staff procurement systems are corrupted, everyone bears the burden. The brightest and best minds and abilities are passed over, so inevitably standards drop all around. Confidence falls in academic output, research and discoveries.

Wanting to get out good news in a bad situation is the politician's bent. The field of Egyptian Antiquities is not Disneyland. The professional scholar and academic does not seek to purposely mislead or distort. No confidence is placed in the individual who attempts to assert will over facts upon others. Dignity, and the less is more approach, is usually the norm during turbulent times. Dr Hawass, in actively seeking out international press coverage, had every opportunity to give out factual, cautious statements and updates in keeping with the stature of his office - that no one knew, and would not know for some time, the extent of the damage or the thefts. This very grave, sad time was not occasion for personal grandstanding or for attempting to exert and impose a control of will that so evidently was not borne out by facts.
(Patricia Linton)

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