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Terra Mystica suggested that I do a new version of my news round up of news about the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

This is by far the most important museum for artifacts of ancient Egypt, containing the mummies of several pharaohs and most of the objects from King Tutankhamun's tomb.  The current situation in Egypt has put it in danger. and some vandalism has occurred, but it looks like the museum is being protected by the army and the people.  The museum is right next to the ruling party headquarters that was burned.

Here are some news stories about the situation.

Egypt's military secures famed antiquities museum

One man pleaded with people outside the museum's gates on Tahrir Square not to loot the building, shouting at the crowd: "We are not like Baghdad." After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thieves carted off thousands of artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad — only a fraction of which have been recovered.

Suddenly other young men — some armed with truncheons taken from the police — formed a human chain outside the main entrance in an attempt to protect the collection inside.

"I'm standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure," said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.

Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it "has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we'll never find it again."

Finally, four armored vehicles took up posts outside the massive coral-colored building in downtown Cairo. Soldiers surrounded the building and moved inside to protect mummies, monumental stone statues, ornate royal jewelry and other pharaonic artifacts.

Apparently there was some vandalism at the museum since the unrest began.

EGYPT: Antiquities damaged by vandals; collapse of neighboring building feared

The ruling National Democratic Party headquarters next door was torched by demonstrators a day earlier and was at risk of toppling on the museum, the Al Arabiya news network reported.

The museum is in the heart of the city center that has been the scene of violent clashes between police and demonstrators demanding an end to the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak. Vandals tore the heads off of two mummies inside the museum before the protective measures were taken, Hawass said.

Here is a link to some pictures of damage at the museum.  It looks worse than first reported, but not near as bad as what happened at Baghdad.

Images of Egyptian Museum Damage

A bit more information available about the situation at the museum and for the ancient monuments in the rest of the country.

Egypt moves to secure antiquities from looters

Would-be looters broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers, Egypt's antiquities chief said Saturday.

The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo to tourists, and armored personnel carriers could be seen outside the famed archaeological site.

Archaeologist Kent Weeks, who is in the southern temple town of Luxor, said that rumors that attacks were planned against monuments prompted authorities to erect barriers and guard Karnak Temple while tanks were positioned around Luxor's museum.

Here is an article about possible damage to artifacts from King Tutankhamun's tomb.

Looters damage Tut's treasures

Margaret Maitland, an Egyptologist at Oxford University in England, matched up shots of the damaged goods with pictures of artifacts from Tut's tomb and said that three gilded wooden statuettes of the boy-king may have been broken off their pedestals.

The situation is still dangerous.  There is little news yet about the many ancient sites around the country, though from from one of the news stories above, it sounds like the Pyramids and the Karnak temple is being guarded by the army.

Update: Bad news about some of the lesser known sites from Kossack annetteboardman.  She has been to Egypt and seems to have much better sources than I have.  I have just been relying mainly on Google to find this stuff, so I hope she keeps sending more information.

What happened to antiquities in Iraq is happening in places in Egypt

Luxor and the west bank of Thebes seems to have been pretty well secured, by both the army and local population.  But the area of Abusir and Memphis have been attacked.  From a paraphrasing on a Facebook Egyptologists' page:


Verified by Mohammad Megahed: Immense damages to Abusir and Saqqara, all magazines and tombs which were sealed were entered last night. Only Imhotep Museum and adjacent central magazines protected by the military. In Abusir all tombs opened. large gangs digging day and night everywhere

Egyptologists have been contacting border police, customs offices and customs departments all over the world, to look for looted antiquities coming out of Egypt from today onwards.

This is very bad news.  Those sites are not as well known, but are very important for Egyptian archeology.  Artifacts dug up at random and sold on the open market lose their value in understanding Egyptian history.

Anyone who buys such stolen artifacts are vandals, as far as I am concerned.

Update 2: This blog linked to by annetteboardman looks like a very good source for the latest antiquities related news.

Update 3: It looks like the 2 mummies damaged in the Antiquities Museum are the mummies of Yuya and Tjuyu, the parents of Queen Tiye.  Tiye was the wife of King Amenhotep III, which make Yuya and Tjuya grandparents of the "Heretic Pharaoh" Akhenaten and great grandparents of Tutankhamun.

Originally posted to Thutmose V on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 09:17 PM PST.

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