Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"On my desk by Sunday Afternoon"

Several web-media have covered the story of the impending appearance of an updated list of items missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo after the events of 28th January 2011. There has been a leaked version of dubious authenticity circulating. This indicates the number of items that we should have been looking out for on the international antiquities market over the past weeks as numbered in the hundreds, rather than tens. The report was due to be published on Sunday, but has still not appeared.

The reason is not far to seek, its compilation was required by the Minister of Antiquities Affairs, Zahi Hawass… who by Sunday was no longer the Minister. It seems the Museum is not only unable in the space of some five weeks to produce even a list – let alone photos of the missing objects, but even sees no need to do so when there is not somebody like Hawass inciting them to do their job. Because accounting for what has happened to the cultural items under their care is precisely what their job consists of. Surely at the basis of any collection is proper documentation. The world is looking on with continuing dismay as each day passes without any information and wondering just what kind of documentation this long established museum collection actually has. Whatever type it is, it is obviously inadequate to the task in hand.

How many other modern measures put in place by the former Head of the SCA and Minister of Antiquities have similarly gone by the board while waiting for the current political uncertainty to resolve itself?


Soo said...

The main reason why no official release has been made on the part of the Ministry regarding stolen objects from the Egyptian Museum is because the looting still continues and on a very large scale. I do not know if you are aware of this but sites are being looted all over Egypt. Site storages are the main target however cases of clandestine excavations as well as illegal construction are also taking place.
Priority is now given to the protection of sites that are still targeted. We are mainly still trying to protect the sites while simultaneously attempting to inventory these vast storages in these insane circumstances.
Last Saturday night the entire staff of the Egyptian Museum was on hand to receive the entire contents of the Qantara East storage in Ismalia. It is operations of this nature that are currently taking place.
An Egyptian

Soo said...

The reason no official document has been released from the Egyptian Museum could be because looting is still taking place. Site storages have been repeatedly looted by armed gangs alongside cases of clandestine excavations and illegal construction on sites. Priority is given to the immediate protection of sites at the moment. We are mainly protecting the targeted sites in Egypt while simultaneously conducting initial inventories of these vast storages under these insane circumstances. Last Saturday night the Egyptian Museum staff was on hand as the entire contents of the Qantara East storage in Ismalia was relocated to the museum's basement. We are overwhelmed with escalating events and prioritizing the protection of sites.
An Egyptian

Paul Barford said...

The Museum has three members of staff? How can they accept responsibility for new material when they cannot even properly account for what they already had? A museum is more than just a heap of stuff in the corner of a room in a cellar.

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