Sunday, 6 March 2011

Where do You Stand on the Issue of Looting?


Zahi Hawass gives his reasons for resigning and reminds us of a fundamental truth, as an archaeologist in the current situation in Egypt he is unable to ensure the protection of the country’s antiquities from looting, vandalism and theft. The pressing need to work effectively for the protection of the archaeological record wherever possible from destructive exploitation should be at the forefront of the mind of every concerned archaeologist everywhere. Zahi Hawass has many loud critics in archaeological circles in Europe and North America, but somehow I cannot see any archaeologists there in protest about being unable to stop the commercial exploitation of the archaeological record. In Great Britain archaeologists call artefact hunters destructively selectively extracting all the “collectables” out of the accessible archaeological sites of the nation their “partners”. I do not see many of my British colleagues taking any sort of moral stand whatsoever on this erosion of the finite resource. Hawass did.


Damien Huffer said...

He should definitely be commended for that, even though, in my opinion, he let his power and "fame" inflate his ego too much towards the end... Having never met him, the above statement is no more than my general opinion...

Tiberius said...

Dear Paul,

There's an online petition that all those passionate about the well-being of Egypt's Cultural Heritage can sign:

Hope this helps.

Jacques Kinnaer.

Tiberius said...

Dear Paul,

There is an online petition that can be signed by people who are concerned about the current situation in Egypt and that requests the Egyptian Authorities to do what it takes to stop the looting:

Mark said...

It was nice that he took a stand as an archaeologist, but don't you think he's choosing to step away from the politics of Egypt's cultural heritage scene at a time when it needs his celebrity/voice most? I think it's too easy to give him credit especially in light of the fact that this may just be a clever PR move on his part... Let's not forget how he added to the misinformation during the civil unrest. Sure he is an archaeologist by trade, but he's also the custodian of Egypt's patrimony. It's been his job to ensure the protection of that record.

Sarah said...

Dear Paul,
I am an inspector of antiquities based in Giza and have been living this nightmare of looting for the past couple of months. Upon hearing of the looting I have been physically assisting sites in salvage operations as well as raising awareness through the media and contacts here and abroad.
What Dr. Zahi did in resigning is what any one in his position and in his right mind would do. The feeling of despair and helplessness is overwhelming. I can keep fighting though because I'm after all an inspector but if I were responsible for all antiquities and have my hands tied by the prevailing political battles taking place in Egypt; I would leave.
P.S. The petition mentioned above by Tiberius lists endangered sites as only being Coptic and Jewish and that is not the case. The most threatened sites and antiquities generally are the Pharaonic. Any way of amending the petition?

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