Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, February 07, 2011

For me this interview with Professor Philippe Collombert, Chair of Egyptology at the University of Geneve in the Tribune de Genève, (thanks Twitter!) taken with other reports, pretty much confirms two things:  

  1. Saqqara was looted.  What damage was done remains disputed, but the size of the invasion was massive and some damage is seemingly inevitable.
  2. The police guarding ancient sites and museums across Egypt abandoned them at about the same time without any warning.  There has been no explanation for an apparently synchronous set of walk outs.
Of the looting Collombert said (with a slight elision for brevity):
C’est alors que j’ai vu une chose inouïe se produire: les pilleurs se sont précipités. Cent, deux cents jeunes gens de 10 à 15 ans, venus des villages de Saqqara et d’Aboussir tout proches, ont déferlé par groupes de dix. Certains étaient armés de pistolets et tiraient en l’air pour faire partir les ghafirs (les gardiens).

(Then I saw something incredible. The looters rushed. One hundred, two hundred young men, 10 - 15 years of age, from the villages of Saqqara and Aboussir, swarmed in groups of ten. Some were armed with pistols and fired into the air to scare away the guards.)

Mais il y a eu des dégâts. Les cadenas des magasins ont été forcés, des momies cassées, une tente contenant des poteries incendiée, des structures en brique brisées…

(But there was damage. The locks of magazines were forced; mummies were broken; a tent containing pottery was set on fire, brick structures were broken ...)
That is my translation (Google Translate makes ham of it), but I think it is accurate.  There is more in the source article - but you may be better reading  the original French if you can!


Stephanie said...

Very worrying indeed!

Geoff Carter said...

Given the secrecy, it may be a long time, if ever, that we get to the bottom of this.

It is not good news for the trend of Egyptology for the Egyptians perused by ZH.
It's also is very good indication of the social conditions that can lead to looting in any period.


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