In the midst of all the fighting in Egypt, treasured antiquities have been looted from their resting places in museums and storerooms across the country. One of these storerooms belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in Dahshur, where the museum was conducting excavations.
On Thursday, the Antiquities Minister Dr. Zahi Hawass released on his popular blog site a list of looted places since the fighting began this January, and after President Hosni Mubarak relinquished power to the military. Apparently, criminals broke into De Morgan, the Met’s storage facility there, and tied up guards before looting the facility.
Met director Thomas Campbell released a statement on Thursday, stating his concern on current affairs in the Middle East. As the New York Times posts, Campbell states: “The world cannot sit by and permit unchecked anarchy to jeopardize the cultural heritage of one of the world’s oldest, greatest and most inspiring civilizations. We echo the voices of all concerned citizens of the globe in imploring Egypt’s new government authorities, in building the nation’s future, to protect its precious past. Action needs to be taken immediately.”
In addition to the Met’s holdings, the Egyptian Museum, located in the center of Cairo, was also looted, with precious object destroyed and tossed throughout the building; thankfully, four of the eighteen known stolen objects from the Egyptian Museum have so far been recovered, but it will be a long time before they are restored to near-perfect condition, if at all possible. Other sites affected include a tomb near the Great Sphinx at Giza, various tombs in Saqqara, storage facilities in Sinai, and a number of other places.
Hawass claims much of the looting has occurred after Mubarak stepped down, and the antiquities chief wants nothing to do with the new regime. Hawass has now supposedly resigned from his lofty position as of this Thursday, refusing to acknowledge and work with the new government.
Meanwhile, here in New York, the Met becomes “increasingly concerned” about the situation in Egypt and the safety of its priceless antiquities. Only time will tell what is to come of Egypt and the millennia of history that are maintained within its museums and beneath the sand.