Egypt’s military has been deployed to the country’s major museums and archaeological sites, including the Pyramids of Giza, after looters destroyed two mummies and a number of artefacts in Cairo.
A group of men broke into Cairo’s Egyptian Museum in Tahir Square in search of gold on Saturday to take advantage of the anti-government protests, shattering the heads of two 2,000 year-old mummies and damaging nearly a dozen other artefacts in the process.
Unfortunately for the museum, the focal point of the political unrest has been Tahir Square. The headquarters of the ruling party were also torched over the weekend and there were concerns that the flames could spread to the nearby museum, which houses the world’s greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities.
Museum director and Egypt’s antiquities chief Dr Zahi Hawass said: “Demonstrators in collaboration with security forces stopped the thieves and returned the relics to the museum - but they were already damaged . . . only their heads were intact.”
The Egyptian military was also deployed to the Pyramids of Giza, the temple city of Luxor and other heritage sites to help save them from acts of vandalism. Reports have emerged that the museum in Memphis – home to a sculpture of Ramesses II – has also been looted and the House of the Temple of Osiris was another victim of the revolt.
Other groups also attempted to enter the Coptic Museum, Royal Jewellery Museum, National Museum of Alexandria and El Manial Museum.
Hawass said his heart is “broken” and his blood is “boiling” over the attacks.
“I feel that everything I have done in the last nine years has been destroyed in one day, but all the inspectors, young archaeologists, and administrators, are calling me from sites and museums all over Egypt to tell me that they will give their life to protect our antiquities,” he wrote in his blog.
The Cairo looters have been caught and detained by solders and it’s understood they’ve not managed to remove any items from the venue.
However, archaeologists and Egyptologists have approached the international community to monitor the antiquities market in case any artefacts have been stolen from other sites and are being traded.
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