Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, July 06, 2011

There were a few interesting points in the Pharaohs' Museum documentary tonight.

Firstly, the chief curator, Mohamed Ali, told Alan Yentob that all items in the same cabinet as the Akhenaten statue which was recovered, were taken.  One possible picture of the original contents of that cabinet is shown here, but I don't know whether items have been removed or added before January 2011.

To my mind, the documentary adds only minimal detail to the story of the break in.  That the robbers made their entrance via ropes from the ceiling is again presented but the windows filmed by the BBC are covered with the grime of ages and clearly hadn't been broken.  Reviewing an old video on this post, the presenter points to "that broken window", although he didn't film it. I am therefore inclined to believe that at least one intruder did enter via the skylight. There is visible blood on one of the objects in case on which one intruder is supposed to have fallen which lends further credence to the official story.  There is also a blood stain in the corner beyond one of the wooden model boats (I think the Meseti boat), where supposedly he hid close to where he entered on ropes from the skylight.  It's not obvious how if he moved to hide in a corner following his injury that he and/or his accomplices then made their way to the Tutankhamun collection and downstairs where he was captured in front of the Sekhmet statue. Dr Hawass also stressed that the museum was dark which is how the boat came to be damaged in the hunt for gold, which suggests the lights were turned off very quickly, but the impression I had formed from previous versions of the break in story was that there had been something of a delay before the idea of turning the lights off occurred to the control room. 

Amazingly during the production of this documentary the mask of Tutankhamun was again removed from its case while the public were present - and in this case BBC cameras too - to change a light bulb.  At least this time the curator wore latex gloves so the criticisms about the handling of some of the objects recently might have been taken on board.  Certainly the use of gloves is very welcome.

The documentary has many shots of the collection inside the museum, including one of the restored model boat from the tomb of Meseti which had been damaged.  It is certainly reassuring; however, the Tutankhamun collection (other than the mask) was shown only fleetingly.  The recovered Akhenaten statue was shown in position on display inside a case, but the other objects original in the same case didn't seem to be present with it, although that is somewhat hard to tell.  There are also some good shots from inside the mummy room, which will be welcome to many in terms of general pictures of some of the royal mummies.

If anybody is interested in the break in then it is a video worth watching if you have access to BBC iPlayer.


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