Thursday, 22 November 2012

Where is Tarek El-Awady Now?

Dr. Tarek El-Awady, Director General of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, is reported to have left the position last summer, though there is a dearth of news on the circumstances. Unlike his non-archaeological counterpart across the river who lost his job as soon as a Van Gogh was stolen from a museum, he managed to survive the consequences of the 28th January 2011 security breach and looting. He then weathered the complete shambles of the initial reports of what happened, the utter fiasco of the inventorisation of the missing objects, the use of his museum as a detention (and it is alleged torture) centre by the army. He presided over a museum dogged by falling visitor numbrrs and teh boarding up of the museum shop after a court judged it had been opened in an irregular fashion. Against all the odds, El-Awady lasted in office for several months after the 'revolution' and the fall of Hawass. It would be interesting to know the circumstances that finally led to his finally leaving the post.  The new director seems to be Sayed Hassan Elsayed (picture) who it seems was was formerly deputy director. I'd be interested to hear from somebody with more precise information.

The  objects that went missing on Jan 28th 2011 are still missing, while there is chaos in the SCA, reportedly with frequent protests by more archaeologists looking for jobs outside the Zamalek office and strikes inside.  Of course until the promised inventory is finished, nobody will know for sure just what and how many items really still are missing. It appears also no inventory has surfaced for the objects that were taken from the looted archaeological stores. The Saqqara mission reports hearing "shooting every night" though it is unclear whether site guards there are taking pot-shots at the authors of the many holes that have appeared, or whether it is farmers trying to scare off those who reportedly are stealing food from fields. As the post-Mubarak country slides deeper into chaos, it seems unlikely that we will see much of an improvement in the stewardship of the archaeological heritage there for quite a while.

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