Wednesday 9 February 2011

How Many Looters did you Think Were Caught? Down to "One Looter" now...

Latest news from Cairo Museum, this time (and I think for the first time) the museum director speaks out for himself. Well, now we are being told that there was "only one looter" - honest. (Dr Hawass on his blog said "nine" which by yesterday had been altered to "ten", and he says he interviewed these 'criminals'). Obviously if there was only one, the fact that there were only three guards watching over the priceless collections that night of anger might by some be seen as (I presume the smiling museum director wants us to agree) somehow less reprehensible. And of course it was awfully dark, the Museum staff Zahi Hawass spoke to the next morning could easily have confused the number of men they caught.(Was this the one that "asked for water"?)

We are shown the conservation lab where the restoration work is being carried out. Note all the objects are lying loose and higgldy-piggledy on a table, none of them with any kind of label or documentation nearby. The two Tutankhamun statues are nowhere to be seen, neither are the smashed bits of the boat we saw in the Al Jazeera film. They might be in another (organics) lab I suppose.

In the shots of the museum galleries themselves, what is really intriguing is that none of the filming shown in this video seems to overlap with the damage seen in the Al-Jazeera video, which makes the former claim that only 13 (or 17) cases were smashed open a little wobbly. Also the Museum director vaguely indicates entry through the roof of the northern bay of the central aisle of the building. Is this really where the break-in occurred? This after all is the section of the building being filmed all the time by Al-Jazeera's cameras on that very night from the windows of the Ramsis Hilton overlooking the back of the Museum.

Why can't we be shown the hole in the roof? Why can't we see the actual case the looter smashed through (and if he cut himself so badly, where are the blood stains on the floor and the showcases he reached into with lacerated hands)? Why cant we see the bits of the Tutankhamun statues being worked on? Where are the mummy heads now? Why don't the Egyptian authorities stop thinking up variant stories, cut through the confusion, get a grip on the truth and tell it how it was?

UPDATE 11th Feb:
A day after this the following video appeared on MSNBC which actually showed what the previous team had missed, answering some of the questions posed above:

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We see the smashed boat, the Tutankhamun statue, the skylight, smashed case and bloodstains. We also hear a different version about the size of the gang. One guy in the museum (smashing glass "for an hour" before somebody heard him - we are told he was arrested by soldiers, so not the Museum's own security guards, where were they all this time ?). There were also three guys on the roof, presumably waiting to haul him up. Now we hear they were after "gold and red mercury".

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