Emergency in Egypt


Along with the world, LCCHP is following the cultural heritage crisis in Egypt. On 31 January 2011, we released an appeal drawing attention to the emergency, which 19 other institutions have now joined. For the latest updates on the situation in Egypt, a full text of our statement, and a complete list of signatories, stay tuned to this page. 

The Latest News from Egypt



24 MARCH 2011

LCCHP and 11 Other Organizations Expand Call for Action in Egypt.

More information can be found here. The full text and signatories can be seen here. Individuals can express their support for this initiative and sign on to the petition here


Resistance to UNESCO Visit to Egypt to Save Artefacts
Ahram online reports that UNESCO's planned visit to Egypt has been met with criticism and "scepticism of 'antiquities colonisation.'" Futhermore, a new minister of antiquities has yet to been named, leaving it unclear as to who would escort and work with the UNESCO mission.

Egypt's Museums: UNESCO to the Rescue
Al Masry Al Youm reports on the recent UNESCO conference, during which general director Irina Bokova expressed support for Egypt and awe for the individuals who created a human shield around the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  Bokova pledged UNESCO support, and discussed an UNESCO mission to Egypt.  About the mission, Christian Manhart, Chief of Museums and Cultural Objects, said "Our mission is not to evaluate or inspect Egypt's museums and archaeological sites in the wake of the revolution...We are here mostly to assure the Egyptian authorities of our support in terms of protecting the country's historical and cultural heritage and also to meet new people in charge and establish contact with them."

14 MARCH 2011

Egypt's Archaeological Sites Stand Unguarded
Discovery news reported last week that archaeologists have called upon Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf "to return police to archaeological sites."

Petition Egypt's Transitional Authority to Provide Adequate Monument and Site Security
A petition requesting that the transitional government ensure the safety of Egypt's museums and archaeological sites has been circulating around the internet.  The petition can be found here.

8 MARCH 2011

The Fate of Egypt's Antiquities
Nevine El-Aref of Ahram Online reports on the restructuring of the Egyptian government, and its implications for the oversight of antiquities.  "Egypt's newly appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf agreed to keep the ministry of antiquities an independent body among the cabinet echelon and separate it from the ministry of culture." 

Why Dr. Hawass Resigned
Zahi Hawass explains why he resigned in a Q & A on his website.  http://www.drhawass.com/blog/why-dr-hawass-resigned.  Among other reasons, he cites an inability to work effectively when the army has abandoned its guard duties at sites around Egypt.

7 MARCH 2011

The status of Egyptian antiquities today, 6 March 2011

On his website, Zahi Hawass provides an update of reports of looting at sites throughout Egypt. Specifically, Hawass notes, "a group of 35 criminals attacked the storage magazines at Tell el-Fara'in (Buto) an ancient and important former capital of Lower Egypt, the Delta." According to Hawass, these magazines were looted.  Hawass also reports "Almost every day at the moment, there are attacks on archaeological heritage sites all over Egypt."

5 MARCH 2011

Looting Affects Met Museum's Storerooms in Egypt
The New York Art Examiner reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art's storeroom at Dashur has been looted.  The museum has been conducting excavations at the site for several years. 

Egypt's Top Archaeologist warns of looting
As Zahi Hawass steps down from his ministerial post, he warns of continued criminal activity at sites throughout Egypt. According to the Associated Press, Hawass notes that looting has increased since Mubarak's resignation.  He calls upon Egyptian youth to protect sites and take efforts to prevent looting.  Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, backs Hawass' concern, "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...to protect its precious past."   

3 MARCH 2011

Egyptian Antiquities Chief Says He's Out
The New York Times reports that embattled Antiquities Chief, Zahi Hawass, has resigned.  The resignation came soon after Hawass acknowledged the looting of various archaeological sites on his website


1 MARCH 2011

Antiquities Missing from Egypt
T
he Penn Cultural Heritage Center has joined LCCHP and other organizations in calling upon law enforcement agencies to be on the alert for  looted Egyptian antiquities on the international art market. To assist this effort, the Center has just released an excellent report detailing antiquities that are currently missing from Egypt. The Center compiled the list from information supplied by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and then supplemented it with descriptions, photographs, and bibliographic data from their own research.

Egypt's cultural artifacts are casualties of political unrest. 
Deutsche Welle highlights the inconsistent and incomplete reports coming out of Egypt regarding looted sites and museums, noting "[I]t may take years to understand and address the full scope of the robberies, as many sites lack thorough documentation."  The article also addresses whether or not international organizations should get involved in the recovery process, and if so- to what extent.  


27 FEBRUARY 2011


We've Been Here Before
Christina Riggs, a lecturer in the School of World Art Studies and Museology at the  University of East Anglia, criticizes academics, egyptologists and others for focusing on "objects rather than politics" during the recent uprise in Egypt.  She notes, "several organisations have issued statements calling for the protection of Egypt's antiquities. Ironically, such statements come on the heels of vigorous US and European rejections of Egyptian requests to repatriate objects, including some granted to foreign excavators before the 1920s."  A critique of Riggs' article can be found on Looting Matters.  

What Comes Next?
In a recent blog entry, the Eloquent Peasant notes that detailed and accurate information of what has been looted and destroyed during the recent events in Egypt is still hard to determine.  This lack of information limits the international community's ability to prevent the sale or transfer of looted items.

Attempt to Steal Pharoah's Statute Foiled in Egypt.
Looters attempted to steal a 160 ton sculpture of Ramses II from an ancient quarry in Aswan.  Archaeologists and guards prevented the theft, by stopping the thieves who were attempting to cut the statue into pieces.
More details on the attempted theft can be found on the New York Times blog

22 FEBRUARY 2011


Uplifting News
Zahi Hawass updated his website to report that on 20 February 2011, "all of Egypt's archaeological sites and six of its antiquities museums reopened."  Hawass also responded to the recent backlash against him, "there have been people who have been completely dishonest, and have tried, through their statements, to make the situation worse, in some cases by accusing me (in vague terms) of various inappropriate or even illegal behaviors. Of course, as even these people themselves know, none of these accusations has any basis in reality." 

American Collectors Eye Events in Egypt with Mistrust
The President of the Ancient Coin Collector's Guild has expressed concern over the events in Egypt and their potential repercussions for collectors"the reason for concern among collectors is that import restrictions like those sought by archaeologists have typically been applied far and beyond the scope of authority vested under U.S. law." 

Egypt's Hawass Fires Back at Critics
In response to growing criticism of his close ties to Mubarak and accusations of corruption, Hawass insists that "Under my direction, the SCA [Supreme Council of Antiquities] has always been an honest department." Hawass told Science Insider "I hope that I will keep my new position because I believe that the monuments and museums of Egypt need me." 

18 FEBRUARY 2011


Egypt confirms Looting, Vandalism of Saqqara and Other Antiquity Sites
National Geographic News Watch reports that Hawass has confirmed looting and vandalism at various sites throughout Egypt.  According to Hawass, "The tomb of Hetep-Ka, in Saqqara, was broken into, and the false door was stolen along with objects stored in the tomb." Furthermore, "In Abusir, a portion of the false door was stolen from the tomb of Re-Hotep."

Blue Shield Mission Report from Egypt
The Blue Shield has released a report (PDF) on the condition of archeological sites throughout Egypt. Recognizing the conflicting information regarding damage to Egypt's cultural heritage, the Blue Shield sent a mission to the country to assess the situation and obtain first-hand information.  Photographic evidence accompanies the detailed report (click on "Egypt 2011 on left side of site to access the report and photos).  The report confirms break-ins, but limited damage, at a number of sites.  But at Dahshur, however, there was, "no doubt that looting on a big scale took place."

16 FEBRUARY 2011


UNESCO calls on art dealers and collectors to be on the alert for stolen Egyptian artefacts.
UNESCO urges those who may come into contact with stolen Egyptian artifacts to maintain "increased vigilance." The Director-General also insists, “Every possible measure must also be taken to provide the security necessary to protect Egypt’s heritage sites and prevent any further thefts.”

Situation on Museums in Egypt
In a recent email update,  ICOM reports, "In short: All 24 state museums are now protected by military. Several attempts of looting thankfully failed due to the protection by local people and the army. Looters were on the other hand successful in the Egyptian
museum and the Quantara warehouse. The news from the excavation fields varies and can range from 'work is going on as usual' to 'heavy illicit digging at night'."

ICOM's official statement on the situation in Egypt can be found
here.

15 FEBRUARY 2011

Protesters target Egypt's antiquities chief.
The Associated Press reports that Zahi Hawass' leadership is being challenged by workers and recent archaeology graduates. Protesters are "saying Hawass was a 'showman' and publicity hound with little regard for thousands of archaeology students who have been unable to find work in their field."

14 FEBRUARY 2011


After the Revolution: Who Will Control Egypt's Monuments?
Science Insider reports that Zahi Hawass, "has been confronting an unusual uprising among his own staff as well as questions about his political future." The author points out that "thefts from the Egyptian Museum are likely to undermine Hawass's long-standing efforts to have important artifacts, such as a bust of Nefertiti now in Berlin, returned to Cairo."

King Tut statues and 16 other items missing from Egyptian Museum after looting rampage

The Canadian Press reports that 18 objects are missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and that around 70 objects were damaged during the looting.  According to the report, Hawass noted that "none of the missing objects was from the gated room containing the gold funerary mask of Tutankhamun..."

Another Day and the Sphinx is still sad
On his blog, Zahi Hawass reports that 20-25 items were damaged at the Cairo museum and are currently being restored. He also indicated that he "would begin to make the necessary arrangements to reopen Giza to tourists."

13 FEBRUARY 2011


King Tut statute among missing Egypt treasures, minister says

In this CNN update, museum officials are now reporting that at least 17 objects were in fact stolen from the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
Details and photographs of some of the stolen objects can be found at the
Eloquent Peasant.

11 FEBRUARY 2011


Egypt's museums and monuments are deserted

The Washington Post reports that although most of Egypt's archaeological sites and museums are unharmed, tourism has plummeted and most archaeological venues are nearly void of visitors.

10 FEBRUARY 2011


An Update on Antiquities
On his blog, Zahi Hawass reports that five objects stolen from the Qantara East Magazine in the Sinai have been found and returned.  Hawass notes, "we will not be able to know the exact number of the stolen objects until the current situation calms down."

Antiquities Ministry Employees Protest Pay
AhramOnline reports that ministry employees are demanding a raise and the hiring of seasonal workers.  They also demanded the resignation of the culture minister's supervisor.  Zahi Hawass that measures are being taken to respond to workers' demands.

Egypt Antiquities Restoration Under Way
National Geographic Daily News reports that restoration has begun on the items damaged during the break-in at the Egyptian Museum.  A video at the site includes interviews with museum staff. 

Report From Saqqara: Contrary to Rumor, the Two 'Maya' Tombs Are Safe
National Geographic's Jeffrey Bartholet returned to Saqqara to investigate, (this time, first-hand) both "Maya" tombs, one of which was rumored to be looted and damaged during the recent unrest. 

9 FEBRUARY 2011


Met Says Boy King Can Head Back to Egypt, Despite Unrest
The New York Observer reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art still plans to return to Egypt 19 antiquities from Tutankhamun's tomb, after displaying them in the New York museum for six months.

Restoration Work Begins at Egypt Museum
Times Live provides additional reporting on the efforts to restore damaged artifacts at Cairo's Egyptian Museum, as Zahi Hawass calls for tighter security.


8 FEBRUARY 2011


Official: Restoration Work Begins on Damaged Egyptian Artifacts
CNN provides an overview of the reports of looting in Egypt, pointing out some of the inconsistencies in the various accounts.  Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian art and architecture at UCLA notes, "concerns are compounded by a lack of reliable information and the prevalence of rumors."

Zahi Hawass: No Mummies Damaged by Looters at Cairo's Egyptian Museum
Hawass reports that no mummies were actually harmed during the museum break-in.  According to Hawass, the two skulls photographed did not belong to intact mummies, but were stand-alone items being scanned for research.

IADAA Condemns the Looting of Egyptian Antiquities and Offers Help

The International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art released a statement condemning looting in the "strongest possible terms" and urging authorities to protect vulnerable sites.  The association promises "[the] utmost diligence cooperation and support in order to track objects."

7 FEBRUARY 2011


Forum UNESCO Distributes LCCHP Statement
LCCHP's Egypt statement has been distributed by Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage (FUUH), a UNESCO project for undertaking activities to protect and safeguard the cultural and natural heritage, through an informal network of higher education institutions.

Report From Egypt: Checking Out the Tombs at Saqqara
Jeffrey Bartholet, a National Geographic correspondent, traveled to Saqqara with Zahi Hawass to investigate reports of looting at the site.  Bartholet spoke with a site guard who indicated that although numerous youths came to dig at the site, they turned up little of value, and the archaeological wealth of Saqqara remains intact. Bartholet also reports that the tomb of Maya the treasurer is safe, though he did not see it himself.  

Reclaiming Trafficked Egyptian Cultural Objects: US Seizure Laws and How to Make a Report to Customs and Border Protection
In a recent blog entry, Attorney (and LCCHP board member) Ricardo St. Hilaire, informs readers how U.S. authorities can legally seize Egyptian antiquities being transported across America's borders. St. Hilaire also provides information on how one can report suspicious transactions or activity.

Statement from the International Archaeological Community
Members of the international archaeological community released a joint statement (pdf) urging Egyptian officials to "state that the history of Egypt is a priority area and that Egypt's cultural heritage must be protected." The organizations also call upon the international community to support Egypt's recovery and protection efforts financially as well as materially. 

The Egyptian Museum After the Break-In: An Upbeat Assessment
In an interview with National Geographic, Tarek El Awady, director of the Egyptian Museum, reports that "looters who broke into the museum on January 28 did less damage than curators had previously feared."  According to El Awady, only 20-25 objects will need restoration and the museum is "completely safe" now.

5 FEBRUARY 2011

Detailed Firsthand Report About Saqqara Looting
CultureGrrl provides an update of reports on looting at Saqqara. Her firsthand sources confirm destruction, directly conflicting with what Zahi Hawass has reporting.  


4 FEBRUARY 2011

Zahi Hawass Confirms Egyptian Artifacts and Monuments Are Safe
Hawass rebuffs international offers to assist in supervision and protection of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; he insists Egypt's museums and sites are safe. 

Protesters Confront Looters at Egyptian Museum
MSNBC reports (video) that protestors prevented looters at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo from getting away with their goods.   

3 FEBRUARY 2011


NatGeo News Watch
National Geographic interviews Dr. Willeke Wendrich, professor of Egyptian at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.  Dr. Wendrich highlights the tremendous loss caused by the looting of sites that have yet to be studied, survey, or mapped, "[t]hrough random digging by looters we are losing valuable information on Egypt's history and culture. An excavation is a one time opportunity: it can only be done that once, and if it is not executed or recorded properly the information is lost forever."

Rare Tomb May Have Been Destroyed
An excavator reveals that the tomb of Maya, one of the only tombs "devoted solely to a woman" has been "completely destroyed."  Luxor and Amarna are currently safe.

Museums on High Alert for Ancient Egyptian Loot
Reuters reports that international museums are joining efforts to discourage trade in recently looted Egyptian artifacts.  The article cites a statement by the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology "All of us who are friends of Egypt can help the efforts to stop looting of archaeological sites, stores and museums, by focusing on the international antiquities trade."

Facebook Group to "Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum!"
Professor Sarah Parcak confirms looting at Saqqara, "Saqqara being majorly looted. Reports from ground contacts (verified and trusted+ witnesses )are that numerous people (I was told "thousands") digging day and night." See more on Looting Matters.

2 FEBRUARY 2011


Egypt Sees Looting in Wake of Protests
NPR interviews Zahi Hawass, who reports that the sites of Saqqara, Abusir, Luxor or and Karnak are safe. 

Egypt Cultural Heritage Organization Releases Press Statement and Call for Assistance
The full statement can be found at Egyptology News, as the Egypt Cultural Heritage Organization (ECHO) has not yet been able to update its website.  ECHO confirms reports of looting and destruction: "At both Abusir and Saqqara many sealed tombs have been entered by thieves, destroying many of the tombs interiors and taking artefacts."  ECHO calls upon the international community, specifically the British and US governments, to assist Egypt's efforts in assessing and repairing the damage done.

Reputable Auction Houses Try to Get All (Arti)facts Before Selling Antiquities
The Washington Post discusses the implications of the crisis in Egypt on the trade in antiquities with Elizabeth Bartman, president of the Archaeological Institute of America

Antiquities Chief Says Sites are Largely Secure.
Zahi Hawass, recently appointed to Hosni Mubarak's new cabinet, tells the New York Times that "a vast majority of Egypt's museums and archaeological sites are secure and have not been looted" despite reports of incidences at Abusir and Saqqara

1 FEBRUARY 2011

UNESCO Director-General Launches Heritage and Press Freedom Alert for Egypt

Irina Bokova - the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  - launched an appeal to protect cultural heritage and to respect freedom of expression in Egypt.

Egyptian Army Boosts Security at Museums and Archaeological Sites

The National reports that "the Egyptian military has stepped up security for the country's museums and archaeological sites in the wake of looting and vandalism that has his some of the world's most renowned repositories of antiquities."

Egypt News Updates Today
The Art of Counting blog summarizes reported incidences of looting in Egypt.

Egypt Declares Treasures Safe
In an interview with the Associated Press, Zahi Hawass announces that, despite earlier reports of damage to Egypt's cultural heritage, "today everything is safe."



31 JANUARY 2011

Blue Shield Releases Statement on Egypt

The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) - the cultural equivalent to the Red Cross - has released its own statement on the situation in Egypt.

Egypt Treasures Looted, But Public Strikes Back

According to National Geographic News, "Egyptologists and everyday Egyptians" are "banding together to protect local historic sites."

Egypt's Treasures: Assessing the Damage

Discovery News warns that smugglers may take advantage of the political crisis in Egypt by trafficking antiquities from the country.

Archaeologists Assess Tut Tragedy

NBC's Kate Snow reports on the damage done to Egypt's antiquities.

Egyptians Survey Damage to Priceless Artifacts
In an interview with Archaeology magazine's Bob Brier, NBC's Kate Snow examines the damage done to Egypt's cultural heritage during the current political crisis.

Amid Violence in Egypt, An Electronic Eye on Museums
The Atlantic highlights the efforts of Egyptologists for Egypt, a group of "Egyptologists, archaeologists, and other specialists who work in Egypt" and "support the righteous demand for justic and democracy" while "[keeping] an eye on the monuments."

Thinking Ahead: An Emergency Protection for Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act
In his blog, art lawyer - and LCCHP Board Member - Ricardo St. Hilaire advocates for enacting emergency import restrictions on cultural materials from Egypt.


LCCHP and Other Organizations Warn of Emergency in Egypt

The undersigned cultural heritage and archaeological organizations express their concern over the loss of life and injury to humans during the protests in Egypt this week. We support the desire of the Egyptian people to exercise their basic civil rights. We also share their concern about the losses to cultural heritage that Egypt has already sustained and the threat of further such losses over the coming days.

 

Brave actions taken by the citizens of Cairo and the military largely protected the Cairo Museum. However, the numerous sites, museums and storage areas located outside of Cairo are even more vulnerable. As the prisons are opened and common criminals are allowed to escape, the potential for greater loss is created. A recent report from Egyptologist Professor Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama in Birmingham states that damage has been done to storage areas and tombs in Abusir and Saqqara and that looting is occurring there and in other locations.

 

We call on the Egyptian authorities to exercise their responsibilities to protect their country’s irreplaceable cultural heritage. At the same time, we call on United States and European law enforcement agencies to be on the alert over the next several months for the possible appearance of looted Egyptian antiquities at their borders.


American Academy of Religion

American Anthropological Association

American Institute for Conservation

American Philological Association

American Schools of Oriental Research

Archaeological Institute of America

Association of Art Museum Curators

Association of Art Museum Directors

Cultural Heritage Center, The University of Pennsylvania

Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies, Rutgers University

Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices

Friends of Cultural Heritage (Turkey)

ICOM National Committee in Georgia

International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management

Istanbul Branch of Archaeologists in Turkey

International Foundation for Art Research

Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation

Saving Antiquities for Everyone

Sino-American Field School of Archaeology

U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield






Other Sites Following the Situation in Egypt


Art Theft Central

Looting Matters

Egyptology News

CultureGrrl

Dr. Zahi Hawass

The Eloquent Peasant

Egyptological Looting Database 2011

Egyptian Crisis News

Museum Security Network

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