Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, February 03, 2011

One of my fears about creating a database of looted sites was that it might in some way assist those in Egypt who are robbing sites.  I decided that it was prudent to implement a temporary country-specific block to inhibit access from Egypt.

My apologies to anybody in Egypt trying to access the site.  I hope you understand why I have chosen to do this.  No disrespect is intended.  As soon as normal security arrangements are back in place at archaeological sites, I will remove the block.

If anyone knows of anyone in Egypt who has tried unsuccessfully to access the site, please pass on my apologies.

If people think I'm being over-cautious please say and I can remove the block now.

3 comments:

Paul Barford said...

I'm sorry to say, I think you are. Surely helping combat this problem is not something the English-speaking world should presume we can do "for" the Egyptians, surely it is something we should be doing "with" the Egyptians. You can't do that by excluding them from the information.

I think many of the looters with Internet access know jolly well where the places worth looting are already.

Surely to have any sense, this database should - above all - be gathering reliable information from those on the ground, in Egypt. They can hardly help if they cannot see what you have got already.

It looks a bit paternalistic, as if you are not trusting the Egyptians to look after their own cultural property, and only we can be trusted to do that. I am sure that is not your intent.

Richard van Buren said...

While I can understand Paul Barford's opinion, I think this is one of these situation where a web master (mistress of the house?) has to take a decision that might be unpopular, but nevertheless is understandable. You can voice all kinds of well meant and to some extent "romantic" ideas, but imagine that Kate would not have taken these measures to restrict access from Egypt, and she later had found out that it was her database which gave priceless information to the (would be) looters, then how would she feel, not to say held responsible by the (new or old) Egyptian Government?

Kate Phizackerley said...

Thanks Richard

It's not an easy decision. The reports now are that the army are in charge at least of major sites, and in some ways Facebook is more of a risk.

What I am now doing is censoring any comments where people say such and such a site is poorly protected or they are worried that such and such a site might be attacked. The exception is Abusir and Saqqara. Either those sites are now protected by the army, in which case it is safe to worry about them publicly; or they have been overrun (and presently it looks as though any damage done was probably done at the weekeend and might not be continuing), in which case there is little harm left to do by saying they are at risk.

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