Wednesday 22 February 2012

Egypt: Minister of Antiquities - 6,000 Artifacts Restored From Israel

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, responding to inquiries from members of the People's Assembly Culture, Media and Tourism Committee on Monday 20/2/2012 said that his Ministry is holding negotiations to retrieve a host of artefacts from Belgium, France and the US.

Egyptian antiquities which are abroad were out of the country according to the law which allowed the sharing of 50 % of the artifacts discovered between Egypt and foreign exploration missions. He further said that the law was changed to reduce the proportion of the division to only five percent of the foreign mission and then abolished completely in proportion to the effects of the law passed last year. All the warehouses of antiquities are fully secured, noting that only 2 percent of the artifacts were stolen during the state of lawlessness which prevailed in the country, he added.

He also announced that as many as 6,000 artifacts "have been restored from Israel". Two percent of several hundred thousand is a lot of missing artefacts. Where is the online inventory so dealers and collectors can check whether an item they are offered is stolen? Perhaps less attention should be given to feel-good news about what has been "restored" to a proper and full assessment of what has been lost and efforts made to restore that damage than headline-seeking chasing around like former Minister Zahi Hawass after material long ago out of the country.

Egypt State Information Service, 'Egypt: Minister of Antiquities - 6,000 Artifacts Restored From Israel', .

Vignette: Minister of State for Antiquities Dr Mohammed Ibrahim (Luxor Times blog)


Dorothy King said...

I've been discussing this with a couple of friends, and you clearly have the same reaction to "only 2%" - are you also curious about how the items got over one of the most tightly policed borders into Israel? We felt that, bar the land mines, Egypt-Libya was a more popular smuggling route this time last year. Fully agree about the need for a database.

Best, D

Paul Barford said...

No, I did not read it this way at all. I think this is typical Egyptian feelgood antiquities fluff. If the news report was more detailed, I think we would have learnt that these were objects from old Israeli excavations in Sinai being united with other stuff from these sites.

For what its worth, I think any of the 2011 loot which left the country went out eastwards through the Suez/Red Sea ports (though yes, some was seen headed Libya way - but then did not some of these at least turn out to be fakes?)

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