Monday, 16 August 2010

Trophy Relics, the Egyptian Shopping List

Over on Andie Byrnes' Egyptology Blog a commentator (one "Mercury") says s/he has never heard of "another country ardently demanding the return of artifacts or even a nation of native people", and that anyway "institutions cannot be held responsible for the return of artifacts".

According to this writer it is just Egypt that is being "ureasonable", and this is all because of a single person:
It is important to note that one person is the instigator of this movement...Zahi Hawass. He appears to be on a crusade to not only retrieve artifacts but enhance his persona and accumulate wealth from the media.
"Mercury" seems unaware of something called the "Parthenon Marbles", the "Euphronios Krater" and all the rest, far from being just Egypt" there are many countries that would "like some of our cultural heritage back please": Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Nigeria, Peru, Guatamala, China, India for starters. Britain of course does not, it alone could not care less what collectors swipe, but then that's tit-for-tat as its antiquities market and "wannabe-universal" museums are one of the prime swipers.

As for the Egyptian government, should not the return of the chunks hacked off the walls of TT15 which the Louvre bought have been requested?

Should not the mask of Ka Nefer Nefer which was bought by the St Louis Art Museum although it should be in a Sakkara excavation storeroom be returned?

The import of the paperless "Miami coffin" should not have been stopped?

The probably mummy of Ramsses I from the Niagara Falls museum?

Hawass' Antiquities "Shopping List"

Hawass is currently spearheading a movement to return to Egypt from collections in various other countries many prominent unique and/or allegedly irregularly taken Ancient Egyptian artefacts. The six antiquities on his shopping list are:
1) the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum,
2) the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin's Neues Museum,
3) the Dendera zodiac ceiling from the Dendera Temple now in the Louvre in Paris,
4) the bust of Prince Ankhhaf in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts,
5) the statue of Hemiunu, in Hildesheim's Pelizaeus Museum,
6) the statue of King Ramses II in the Turin Museum.

What is "wrong" with the Egyptians trying to get these things back for display in their own museums where surely they belong as much as in London, Boston or Hildesheim? Are the items in these western collections on Hawass' "shopping list" actually anything more than trophies in the foreign museums? Is that why people get so up tight about surrendering them when it is suggested?

See post below about Rosetta Stone, see also Heritage Key: Is Repatriation Good for Archaeology? Zahi Hawass' Quest for Egypt's Antiquities with its neat image by Prad Patel.

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