Tuesday 29 April 2014

Breaking News, Ten More Cairo Museum Artefacts Recovered

There is some exciting breaking news this evening:
'Egypt recovers pharaonic artefacts looted in uprising' AFP April 30, 2014

It is being reported by the antiquities ministry  that Egypt has recovered 10 pharaonic artefacts, including a gilded wooden Tutankhamun statue which was among the items looted from the Egyptian Museum on Cairo's Tahrir Square on January 28, 2011.
Along with the Tutankhamun statue, which will be restored by Egyptian experts, two statues of Queen Nefertiti's children were also recovered, according to antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim. Authorities also recovered a stone likeness of Tutankhamun as a young boy that had been broken off of a larger statue showing him in the arms of a goddess. One missing artefact was found in Belgium and eight others in the United States, state news agency MENA quoted the ministry as saying. A total of 54 artefacts went missing from the museum when looters broke in during the uprising, mainly treasures from the era of pharaohs Tutankhamun and Akhenaton. Thirty-five of the pieces have since been recovered.
Like much of the news concerning Egyptian antiquities, this story is garbled. The 'Belgian' artefact is presumably the shabti discussed earlier. The Tutankhamun statue from the "arms of a goddess" is in fact the gilded wood one mentioned earlier (its also one of my favourite pieces, so glad to see that might be back). Also it should be noted that the artefacts which seem to be concerned come from the ground floor theft and that upstairs in the eastern range of the Museum, which I had previously surmised were the work of two separate groups of thieves. Whatever the case, this article seems to suggest that the objects ended up together.

A mysterious element in this version of the story is that reportedly, and conveniently -  just as the MOU is being discussed - it is claimed that eight of the objects were recovered in the United States of America.I'm really not sure where that information came from, as Al Ahram has a different version of the story, in which they never left Egypt ('10 artefacts stolen from the Egyptian Museum recovered', Tuesday 29 Apr 2014):
A police agent posing as an antiquities trader met the alleged thieves and offered to buy the stolen artefacts, said Ibrahim. The head of the smuggling gang agreed to meet the agent in the Al-Nozha area of the east Cairo district of Heliopolis. When the transaction was completed and the agent had secured the artefacts, a TAP team broke in and made the arrests. Ahmed Sharaf, head of the ministry's museum department, told Ahram Online that the objects are all in poor condition and will be restored. The 10 artefacts, stolen from the Egyptian Museum on 28 January along with 44 other pieces, include of a wooden statue of King Tutankhamun covered with gold sheets and a collection of bronze, wooden and gilded ushabti figurines of his great-grandparents Youya and Thuya. A bronze statuette of an Apis bull is also among the recovered objects. Ibrahim told Ahram Online that most of the objects stolen from the Egyptian Museum during the 2011 revolution have been recovered, with 44 out of 54 stolen artefacts returned.
It would be useful if the Egyptian Museum would produce a third update of its list of objects stolen, which it seems will have "just" ten items outstanding. 

I am sure I am not the only one eager to learn more about this latest bust, and in particular in whose hands the smuggled artefacts were found and by whom and how.

Vignette: Menkaret and Tutankhamun, missing fragment reportedly coming back.

UPDATE  1st May 2014:
Sadly the first article seems to have got most things wrong. Recent photos of the nine objects now back in the museum do not include the Menkhet fragment as I was so much hoping. There's an Apis bull, a gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun, and the rest are shabtis. http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2014/05/photos-of-egyptian-museuum-objects.html

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