Saturday 12 February 2011

Egypt Looting: Dashur Magazine Robbed, How?

Over the past two weeks attempts have been made by the Egyptian authorities to play down the news of the looting of archaeological sites and archaeological storerooms Zahi Hawass today announces ('Sad News') that
in another terrible turn of events, last night a magazine in Dahshur was broken into; it is called De Morgan’s. This magazine contains large blocks and small artifacts.
Have a look at Dashur on Google Earth, the reason why this site was felt to be one of the safest in the pyramid fields is that there is a huge army base right next to it. We've been assured that the army has been protecting sites and magazines since the beginning of February. So why was it possible to break into this site last night? Some commentators have raised the question of when the break-in actually occurred and whether there are reasons why its looting is only now, the day after Mubarak 'abdicated', this news becomes public. Is the underlying message that the army is unable to look after these sites by itself?

Vignette: Dashur, bent pyramid, after EgyptTourInfo


Euphronios said...

If you read Jonathan tokeley's book 'Rescuing the Past' it is the army and the antiquities police who are resposible for a great deal of the illicit sale of antiquities, even Hawass himself was once sacked for selling State owned artifacts. If a magazine is near an army base it is MORE likely to be looted.

Paul Barford said...

Jonathan Tokely was not "rescuing the past", he was stealing it. There is a lot of self- justificatory myth-making in that book. Yes, I know that officials who should be guarding stuff sometimes are also involved in these thefts. So basically - if you believe that what Tokely says is true - now the country is under military rule you will agree with me that we are now going to see the second phase of the looting?

So, if that is true, Mr new-profile-Euphronios whoever you are, what should we in the "market countries" do about this? How should we stop unscrupulous dealers and collectors putting money into the pockets of (you suggest) corrupt members of a foreign military junta?

Paul Barford said...

Just to put the record straight, I do not recall what Tokely alleges about Hawass in the book (I cannot say I read it with much attention, it was largely the same old tired arguments), but I suspect that what our anonymous commenter has in mind is the events surrounding Hawass leaving his position as Chief Inspector of the Giza Pyramid Plateau in 1993. He resigned, but rumours were spread that he was fired because a statue went missing during his tenure of the post. Whatever the case, he was reinstated in the post in early 1994, so one can assume that it was demonstrated that he was not personally involved in any wrongdoing.

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