Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sentencing in Khufu Cartouche Case

This ancient civilization story gets weirder and weirder. It starts pretty conventionally: 'Egypt sentences 3 Germans over antiquities' theft' Associated Press 11th November:
An Egyptian court has sentenced nine people, including three Germans who were tried in absentia, to five years in prison for theft and smuggling of antiquities. The Giza Criminal Court issued its ruling on Tuesday, concluding that the men had chipped off a piece of stone from the burial chamber of King Khufu inside the Great Pyramid. The men were apparently trying to prove a theory that the pyramids was built by a civilization pre-dating the ancient Egyptians. German prosecutors identified two of the convicted Germans as Stefan Erdmann and Dominique Goerlitz, who is described in the German press as an "experimental archaeologist."
 Not much unexpected here, the two Germans that took the samples in April 2013 and filmed themselves doing it and presumably the Egyptian guards who were lax enough in their duties to let them do it undetected are the ones sentenced. Another account adds the detail that the sentence was five years 'with labour'. I guess the Germans will not be visiting Egypt in the foreseeable future. I suspect the third German was the cameraman who was in the chamber with them and filmed it. 

But then it gets weirder. It is now being suggested that the filming was staged, it is now being alleged that the actual samples from the Khufu cartouche were taken earlier. If one can believe that, it would seem that there is a chance that the nine are being convicted for committing a crime that had been committed earlier, potentially by somebody else. Bauval says the cartouche samples were taken "between July 2004 and December 2006". Can one believe that? 

There is something else going on which might suggest that we should: 
World-renowned Egyptologist and former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass was referred to the general prosecution Tuesday on fresh charges of corruption and squandering public funds accusations. Hawass is accused of being involved in stealing artefacts belonging to Egyptian pharaoh King Khufu, after which the largest Giza pyramid is named. Six Egyptian employees and three German researchers have been sentenced to five years in prison with labour for seizing the artefacts from the pyramid and smuggling them abroad. According to the verdict, the Germans, who were sentenced in absentia, had access to the artefacts in field work while trying to prove the largest pyramid wasn't actually built on the Khufu era.
Reading between the lines, Hawass is being chased up allegedly for providing this 'access' - which he could only legitimately do while the head of the SCA (or perhaps minister of Antiquities). Since July 17, 2011 he has been a private citizen, so this new attempt to bring a case against him must refer to something his accusers say he did before that.

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