Friday 4 February 2011

Cairo Museum looting: Another identification and a Puzzle

On the Facebook page dedicated to the Museum looting, another museum case has been identified (by Ginevra Napoli on 31st January):

It was not until today however that somebody noted something odd. Jasmine Day writes:
Now, this shot puzzles me: a break in the case, but not a hole, and two(?) necklaces missing beneath. On tour? Out for study in the staff rooms? Taken earlier by someone with key access to the case? These are Middle Kingdom mummy necklaces (well the main broad collar is, at least), made specifically for the dead. Ominously, the one of the missing necklaces appears to be made from or decorated with gold.
Arden Ellen Nixon replies:
Generally (or at least at the U.S. museums I've been to), cards are left in an item's place to explain that it's on tour, being conserved, on loan, etc. Even if taken, the necklaces' normal catalog number/tag would have been left behind (as with the board collar to the left), but it isn't visible in the available pictures.
So what exactly is it we are seeing here?

What mummy heads were lying on the floor? At first we were told that somebody had tried to remove two whole mummies but the heads had come off and they tried to take just the heads. Now the story is emerging that these heads were loose ones which had been taken from some storeroom or research lab. So how far into the museum did these guys (two or nine?) get?

The staff of Cairo Museum have had a week to look at the traces left by the looters and pick up and secure the pieces and work out what happened, yet we have heard nothing much from them apart from generalisations. It was from the beginning clear which cases were smashed open, the number of objects that need to be accounted for in the first stage of the investigation may be therefore limited to the objects that are known (should be known) to have been in those cases. No mention has been made of any necklaces missing or on the floor for example. Why when there clearly were on the basis of the Al Jazeera film report (at least) three statues of Tutankhamun taken out of their cases by the looter, and the reports of a looter being caught with "two" statues, is no attempt being made to account for this discrepancy, simply a denial that anything was taken from the museum?

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