Cairo Museum Looted As Protesters Clash On Streets

Looters broke into the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities near Tahrir Square in Cairo smashing vitrines,damaging statues and mummies.The robbery took place Friday night, while police attempted to quell the violent protests which erupted on the streets. The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Ancient Egyptian treasures, including the priceless collection of King Tutankhamen. Another report told of several broken statues and ceramic figures laying on the floors of the museum and latest information details the distrustion of irreplacable Tutankhamen furniture. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s top archaeologist told state television that the looters had entered from above and broken through doors. “I felt deeply sorry, when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had raided the museum by force last night,”Time online reported that the giftshop was mistakenly looted first and inexpensive reproductions were carted away. However it seems other parts of the museum were effected and until a comprehensive inventory is taken, It is irrespondsible to speculate how much is missing.Widespread looting in other museums around the country has been rife.The Port Said Museum was looted by an armed group and other looters have attempted unsuccessfully to enter the Coptic Museum, the El Manial Museum and the National Museum of Alexandria. Unconfirmed reports have stated that the El-Saddik  museum in Memphis was robbed of its entire collection. Security at Egyptian museums is problematic. In August,before the troubles began, a Van Gogh painting valued at $50 million was stolen from Cairo’s Mahmoud Khalil Museum. it was revealed that alarms and security cameras were turned off and the museum was understaffed. The painting has still not been recovered, even though 11 museum officials have been jailed in connection to the theft. Coincidentally last week,Hawass who is also chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities had written to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, which runs the Neues Museum, asking for the return of the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti.(see photo) This is one of the most iconic Egyptian treasures ever unearthed. It has been in the collection since Archaeologist, Ludwig Borchardt discovered it, south of Cairo in 1912. “This request is a natural consequence of Egypt’s long-standing policy of seeking the restitution of all archaeological and historical artifacts” – Bad timing!

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