Friday, 29 June 2012

Watch Richard Engel on Looting in Egypt

NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel  reports from Egypt on the looting and building on ancient sites in the chaos which followed the displacement of the Mubarak government in Egypt. It has some interesting material and details. Like for example the information that the number of known looting events is 5700 and the number of foiled attempts to smuggle appropriated artefacts is 130. Obviously the information that has been reaching the foreign media is just the tip of the iceberg. He reports from a house near Giza which collapsed as looters' tunnels caved in killing five. I did not see any report of that event at the time. There are scenes from what purport to be grave-robbers tunnels (the robber is reportedly more afraid of the djinns in the tomb than the authorities outside - reads Koranic verses to keep the former away). Of interest is the interview with Hawass. It would be interesting to know how he got the permits to film inside two Valley of the Kings tombs (Ramesses VI and another). 


June 28th Rock Center with Brian Wiliams show MSNBC [The clip about El-Hibeh to which I earlier drew attention is in the middle of this video]


Cultural Property Observer said...

The real issues are that there are no police to protect the sites, the people are desparately poor, and the Egyptian cultural bureaucracy wants to control more than they can or should (even what you find under your own house!).

You should also note for all the talk about criminal looters from Hawass (allegedly a crook on a much higher scale -- a subject Engle avoided broaching) and an American archaeologist, all I saw was very poor looking locals looking for stuff presumably to feed their families.

Perhaps in the complete absense of police American archaeologists ahould pay for local security guards to protect their sites. Their salaries can't cost all that much. I'm also mystified how looters can find a previously unfound tomb and loot it overnight on a site that has apparently been under archaeological investigation for years.

Paul Barford said...

Well, as for poverty, perhaps then if you are so concerned you should be lobbying in Washington that any US aid goes to economic growth rather than the military. I do not recall you making any comment on the declining ratio of the former with regard to upheld expenditure on the latter.

Of course this is not altruism from Welthaupstadt Washington:

As I have pointed out, the US do not "police" and fence archaeological sites right across the country, so why should you require poorer nations to spend a vast amount of money on that?

The answer is for everybody to work together to tidy up the market for illicit antiquities. Why can you and your client dealers' associations not accept that?

As for the accusations against Hawass, which tyou report with s=uch relish and lack of details or follow-up, you might note that the main one concerned the length of time he's allowed antiquities to be out of the state (like our Auschwitz barrack problem with rapacuious Washington). You seem not to have noticed that the stay of those very same antiquities outside Egypt was recently prolongued by his accusers. So do you think the case is going forward despite that?

Yes, well, it seems there are many things which 'mystify' you. So are you excavating under "your own" house Mr Tompa? Right up to the foundations of the party wall with the adjacent property maybe? You reckon people always have a "right" to do that do they? Or my neighbour to keep huge stocks of explosives in his garage, or burn large quantities of toxic waste in his garden as long as the smoke goes straight up, after all it's his property...

I think if your neighbours see you wheeling large quantities of soil out of your basement in wheelbarrows, in the light of what you've written they'd be well advised to check what building permissions you have for work there and if you have none, call in the building inspector.

So what's the geology under your home? Perhaps, depending on where you live, you believe that if you dig down far enough below the basement floor, you might find your very own American Tarbosaurus Bataar?

Cultural Property Observer said...

I now see you took down your post critical of archaeological censorship on this issue. I disagree with you obviously, but at least thought you were against censorship? What gives?

Paul Barford said...

Because I wrote a rather intemperate "update" to it, but have hidden the whole thing until I hear from the FB page owner in answer to a question I posed. When I get that (or if he continues to ignore me as is the case at the moment) I'll put it back up with the update.

Yes, I am against censorship in debate, the only people that need to apply it are those who are unsure of the ground on which they stand.

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.