Monthly Archives: February 2011

List of Stolen Objects

Updated February 18

According to Hawass’ website, here is the list of objects stolen from the Egyptian Museum:

1.     Gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess UPDATED February 18–Fragments of the goddess figure have been found, although the figure of the pharaoh has not.

2.     Gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun harpooning. Only the torso and upper limbs of the king are missing

3.     Limestone statue of Akhenaten holding an offering table  UPDATED February 18–Returned to the museum by “a sixteen-year-old male, one of the protestors at Tahrir Square” after he “found the statue of Akhenaten near the southern wall of the museum, and took it home.” The offering table the pharaoh is holding has broken off, but was found elsewhere in the museum and the entire statue will be repaired.

Photograph of the recovered statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten holding an offering tray, after its return to the museum (Photo: Ahmed Amin)

4.     Statue of Nefertiti making offerings

5.     Sandstone head of an Amarna princess

6.     Stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna

7.     Wooden shabti statuettes from Yuya (11 pieces) UPDATED February 18–One shabti recovered from underneath a case in the museum.

8.     Heart Scarab of Yuya UPDATED February 18–Recovered on the west side of the museum gardens.

That’s a grand total of 18 objects. We’ll have to wait to see whether more stolen objects are announced in the days to come.

Margaret at The Eloquent Peasant has posted images of many of the objects.


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Filed under Looting, Museum

Finally the Truth: Objects Stolen from the Egyptian Museum.

This upsets me immensely.

Since the break-in at the National Egyptian Museum on Friday, January 28, there has been much speculation in the Egyptological world about what objects may have been damaged or stolen; this desperate attempt to understand the extant of the damage was severely limited by a lack of detailed information coming directly from the head honcho of Egyptian Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass (formerly Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, now Vice Minister of Culture of Egypt). Now, it seems that we needn’t have bothered with information from Hawass–not only was the information he provided inexact, it now seems that, in many cases, is was completely erroneous.

While Hawass stated from the beginning that the damage at the museum was limited and that no objects were taken, his blog post from February 12 states that 18 objects are, in fact, unaccounted for.

Hawass’ first statements about the break-in were that the damage was minimal; he mentioned a few broken cases from one gallery, and only one case from the Tutankhamun gallery, where a “statue of the king on a panther”  was broken.

Then, on February 2, came Hawass’ statement that “70 objects had been broken, but nothing had been stolen” and on February 4, “As I have already stated, nothing was stolen from the museum.”

Finally, on February 6, Hawass announced more specifically that “One showcase in the Amarna galleries was smashed; it contained a standing statue of the king carrying an offering tray…Another vitrine that was smashed contained one of King Tutankhamun’s walking sticks. The gilded stick is broken into two pieces, and can be restored. The other King Tutankhamun object that was damaged was the wooden statue of the king standing on the back of a panther. Both objects were taken out of their showcase and were dropped on the floor after the thieves realized that they were not made of gold.”

This optimistic information was received by the Egyptological community with skepticism–one of the most glaring discrepancies in my view was that Hawass never mentioned the statue of Tutankhamun standing on a hunting skiff, though the damaged item is easily recognized and clearly visible in footage of the museum available by February 29 (analyzed well at The Eloquent Peasant).

It is fair to say that, with so many objects displaced during the break-in, we could not expect to have a full official account immediately (in part, perhaps, because of the poor state of the records at the museum).

I am also not surprised that, with the unrest in Egypt and the various problems with accessing the internet, Hawass was not reading all of the Egyptological blogs and forums and noting our speculation; perhaps he has no idea that many of his colleagues have discovering information he has not been able to, or not bothered to, reveal.

Even if Hawass and the other staff members did not notice the other 17 missing objects (including an entire case-full of shawatbi figures!), they could not have failed to see the damaged statue of Tutnakhamun on a skiff (at least to note that the body of the statue had been broken off, even if they did not identify at the time that the body was no longer in the museum).

Apparently, it was not till February 11 that Hawass asked Dr. Yasmin el Shazly, the head of documentation at the Museum to “do a final check of the objects in the museum and the conservation lab against the database and prepare a report for me on Sunday. This report will confirm whether or not any objects have been taken from the museum.”

This last statement is particularly distressing. Rather than telling the archaeological community (and the world) upfront that he could not confirm a full list of the objects damaged or missing, Hawass repeatedly stated that no objects were taken. According to everything he published until today, there was no question of “whether or not any objects have been taken.”

Earlier, Hawass also stated, “I am the only source of continuing truth concerning antiquities…If anything happens to the museum, I would bravely tell everyone all over the world because I am a man of honor, and I would never hide anything from you.  It is from my heart that I tell people everywhere that I am the guardian of these monuments that belong to the whole world.”

Zahi, you don’t have our confidence.

If something happens to the antiquities, tell us. If you’re not sure what happened, tells us you’re unsure. That’s honorable.

If you are the only source of contuinuing truth, our profession is at risk.


Filed under Looting, Museum

Object Restoration Has Begun

Conservators have begun restoration work on the objects from the Cairo Museum that were damaged in the recent break-in.

Dr. Hawass is optimistic that the restoration work will go quickly.

I’m trying to be optimistic, too…

You can see some footage of some of the objects slated for restoration work underway from National Geographic, here.

Here are two shots of some of the damaged items (sorry about the image quality).

Some of the damaged items from the Cairo Museum

Some of the items damaged in the recent break-in.

Another shot of some of the damaged objects.


Filed under Museum, Object Restoration