Wednesday 5 June 2013

Head of Egypt's Repatriation of Antiquities Department Resigns

Osama El-Nahas
(image: Al-Ahram)
Osama El-Nahas, Director-general of Repatriation of Antiquities Department in the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has submitted his resignation to Antiquities Minister Ahmed Eissa, he joined the department in December 2012. As a reason for his decision he cited lack of cooperation from other departments at Ministry which left him unable to carry out his duties. 
Most MSA departments failed to provide RAD with detailed information to help us establish an accurate database of lost artifacts, El-Nahas said. The other departments also failed to help RAD produce a list of sales at foreign auction halls. MSA departments also failed to provide documents concerning police reports on thefts, the identity of missing objects or details on MSA ownership. These documents, El-Nahas said, are of great importance for preventing auction sales and retrieving lost artifacts. 
Not so long ago in the MSA, great store was set by the fight with the illicit antiquity trade, it seems that with all the recent troubles within the ministry, the effectiveness with which this has been possible has been steadily declining, due in part to a lack of concentrated effort in the very ministry responsible for these efforts. It seems that political capital was all that counted: 
In the first year, El-Nahas said, RAD recovered 71 objects. "Although such work was praised by the foreign ministry and international authorities, no concrete collaboration was shown by other departments at the MSA," El-Nahas said.  
One gets the impression that this would not have happened under Hawass. of course the fact that a number of objects from the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir are still missing and an unknown, but potentially huge, number of (still unlisted?) items from a number of robbed storerooms is also still missing may be something to do with El-Nahas' frustrations.

Nevine El-Aref, 'Egypt's Repatriation of Antiquities head resigns', Al-Ahram Online Wednesday 5 Jun 2013

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