Several weeks ago, I posted about the chaos in Cairo and Alexandria and what was being done to protect the museums. The Egyptian people rose to the occasion and protected their heritage in the cities. But things are looking grim at the more remote archaeological sites. Here’s the latest report from Dr. Hawass:
Storage magazines in Egypt
Many storage magazines have suffered break-ins; sites from all over Egypt have suffered at the hands of criminals.
- At Qantara East, in the Sinai, looters broke into the magazine and stole several boxes of objects. Fortunately, to date 292 items have been returned.
- Criminals attacked Saqqara several times about ten days ago. The padlocks of many tombs were opened.
- The magazine of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s expedition in Dahshur, known as De Morgan, was attacked twice; looters were able to overpower and tie up the guards.
- In Abusir, looters broke into the magazine of a Czech expedition.
- In Giza, on March 1,2011, criminals broke into the Selim Hassan magazine. These looters were carrying guns and the unarmed site guards quickly surrendered for fear of their lives.
- Magazines in Tell el-Basta and Wadi el-Feiran, near Sharm el-Sheikh, were also subject to breaking and entering.
Site inspectors at each of these locations are still carefully checking the magazine inventories against their databases to assess the full extent of the damage. I am waiting for the inspectors to finish their work and file their final reports with me.
Several pharaonic sites have been subjected to vandalism and looting.
- The tomb of Ken-Amun in Tell el-Maskhuta, near Ismailia, was completely destroyed. It is the only known 19thDynasty tomb in Lower Egypt.
- At Giza, near the Great Sphinx, the looters broke into the tomb of Impy. Vandals also attempted to destroy other buildings and tombs in Giza, but they were unsuccessful.
- In Saqqara, inscribed blocks and parts of the false door were stolen from the tomb of Hetepka.
- Inscribed blocks were also taken from the tomb of Ptahshepses in Abusir.
- The guards of sites in Nekhen, north of Edfu, caught several thieves.
- In Aswan, looters attempted to steal a statue of Ramesses II, but archaeologists and guards at the site apprehended them.
- A site in Northern Sinai was destroyed when looters arrived with a loader.
- Looters have attacked Abydos nearly every night; illegal excavations and trenches, some as deep as five meters, have damaged the site.
- Reports of illegal construction have been reported near the pyramid of Merenre and the Mastaba Fara’un, near Saqqara.
Many sites, including Alexandria, Ismailia, Saqqara, Behaira, Sharqia, Abusir and Dahshur, have reported illegal excavations, some of which have taken place at night.
Update: Dr. Hawass resigned from his post on March 6, but will remain in office until he is replaced. An interview is posted here.