Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One thing that is frustrating me is identifying precisely which objects were stolen.  For instance, which of the two Tutankhamun with Harpoon statues is with the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition (and safe) and which was in the Egyptian Museum (and therefore smashed and stolen)?

In an email to me, Noel O'Neill has made progress with the head of an Amarna Princess, saying:

All the photos on line are showing the Amarna princess head JE 44870, but that head is with the Tutankhamun exhibition. I have the DVD of the exhibition and two books of exhibition. both books show the same head and museum number, so the head is not in Cairo. This head can not be stolen head. 

If we want people to be on the look out, we need to identify the correct items.  There are a lot of Amarna Princess heads out there and for the stolen head especially it is important that a photo is circulated.  For what it is worth, I am personally extremely disappointed and frustrated that three days after the thefts were announced that the Director of the Museum hasn't published high definition curatorial photographs and catalogue numbers of all the items.  I know they are busy but it is hard to imagine what could be more important than making sure accurate and precise photographs are in circulation and shared freely.  It is not just the head.  Which ushabti was recovered?  The Tutankhamu with Harpoon statue could be in fragments - precisely what pieces does the museum still have so that the art world knows what is missing?  There are rumours that the Goddess from the Goddess Carrying Tutankhamun statue has been recovered, but I haven't been able to follow that up.  Again, the Museum Director should ensure the details are on the SCA Website (or Ministry of Antiquities) and kept up to date at least daily with any updates. (There is a "Stolen Treasures" page, but it doesn't even list the newly missing items.)  Isn't that the job of a museum director?  Isn't his first responsibility to his collection?  It wouldn't matter if the damaged articles didn't go back on display at once; that can wait.  Circulating photographs is urgent.  Enough time was wasted reporting the theft.  Maybe there were reasons for the delay?  I cannot see any good reason now though for the delays in ensuring that photographs of the missing items are circulated.  If their own websites are down for any reason, get photographs and details out to a third party, even by email and somebody will publish them. Or put them on Facebook.

The same applies to the other known stolen items, i.e. the eight missing amulents from the magazine at Dashur.  How is the world supposed to identify those just from the word "amulet".  Again, photographs should have been circulated by now - and surely, at the least, the international community could be told a little more about them?  What Period are they from?  What size are they?  There must be some sort of record?  Surely?


Vincent said...

It might be an idea to go directly to the archaeologists.

I wonder if Nicole Kehrer from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin has photos of the artefacts taken from the Dahshur magazine for example.

Surely they'd have taken photographs of the missing pieces.

As you said, it's impossible to prevent these being sold if we have no way of identifying them.

Patrick Philpott said...

Obviously, information on the damaged and stolen items is being controlled and drip-fed to us out here. This is nothing new in the SCA, and we can only assume that the people who are censoring the information now are the same people (or person) who did so in the past. Or do we think the Museum people are so inept?

Anonymous said...

Akhenaten statue found. Reported by Jane Akshar about 45 mins ago. No further details.

Scrabcake said...

I would not be terribly surprised if there weren't any pictures. Individuals on the dig might have pictures, but they're forbidden from sharing due to fear of a lost concession if pics get out before the publication and also of academic back-biting.
It depends on the excavator. There are some that don't value photography as a method of recording, prefering notes and drawings if they can find an artist.
I personally think there need to be regulations on this. The SCA ought to at least be photographing everything that comes into the magazines. It seems like photographic record keeping for smaller and more common objects is something that is going to be more common now that digital photography has eliminated a lot of the cost of photographs and their archiving.
In short, I have a feeling we're never going to see those amulets again. They're going to disappear onto the art market where such things are a dime a dozen with no documentation, and people are going to buy them not being able to tell the difference between a stolen amulet and one that's been on the market for years.
Furthermore, I'm starting to think that the reason there are no published photos of the stuff stolen from the museum is that the SCA knows they're still nearby.
I thought the Unesco warning to be on the lookout for stolen artefacts was pathetic. Their page didn't have any images, and it didn't even have a link to Zahi's post on what was missing.


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