Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, March 07, 2011

Rinze has drawn my attention to an article about the orginal looting of the false door from the tomb of Hetepka at Saqqaea which appeared in the 2002 edition of Culture without Context.  It was written by Peter Watson and can be read online.  The tomb was first looted, probably around 1991.  The picture alongside shows the false door in situ before the tomb was trashed.  The article has pictures showing how the tomb looked after that looting.  (The article doesn't credit the photo.  I have reproduced it because it seems to be only photo on the Web of the false door from the tomb of Hetepka.  No copyright infringment intended.)

I have been unable to trace when the false door was returned to Egypt but by Octovber 2005, Dr Hawass is reported saying that the tomb had been largely restored.

Hetepka was a royal hairdresser.  Apparently when the Tokeley-Parry case came to trial, she was described in court as the "Vidal Sisoon" of ancient Egypt.  Many reports say that the tomb was published by G.T. Martin in The Tomb of Hetepka (Oxford 1976) but I think this is the full reference:

MARTIN, GEOFFREY THORNDIKE. The Tomb of Hetepka and Other Reliefs and Inscriptions from the Sacred Animal Necropolis, North Saqqâra, 1964-1973. With chapters by Alan B. Lloyd and J.J. Wilkes and a contribution by R.V. Nicholls. (Egypt Exploration Society: Texts from Excavations. 4th Memoir./ Excavations at North Saqqâra.) xvi, 142, (2)pp., 86 plates (partly folding; 1 color). 5 figs. Sm. folio. Cloth. D.j. London (Egypt Exploration Society), 1979.
All looting is deplorable but if tombs had Saqqara had to be looted then it is better that an already damaged tomb like Hetepka was the victim than a tomb like Maya.  (Since most of the new reports of looting are in Lower Egypt, I have not been reporting them here, but I do try to keep the Looting Database up to date.)


tim said...

Revolting completely disgusting makes one wonder how much a proper division of finds may have minimized the damage to tombs and dark magazines filled with antiquities removed from social value and the cost incurred on the state to secure magazines of objects not good enough to make it on to the shelves of Egypt's more than forty museums.

Sadly I would doubt it will be the last time Hetepka's false door will be broken apart.

Prohibition never works it only drives up the price!

John Bright said...

There are probably many organizations that would jump at the chance to display some of these objects.
The National Railway Museum at York has a policy of loaning locomotives to Heritage Lines. The locomotives are restored to steam by the lines and run for as long as the agreement lasts. They remain the property of the museum. Perhaps a similar arrangement could be set up worldwide (I am not thinking of steam locomotives here but all manner of artefacts) so that things would not languish in remote store cupboards/ basements/ magazines/ sheds or hangars. If necessary, a charge could be levied to fund further excavation or conservation in the country of origin.
Egypt already does this with the Tutankhamen collection and I was fortunate enough to visit an exhibition in Venice of other exhibits from Cairo that included the coffin of Ahmose Ist. So, I would suggest that more is possible.


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