Category Archives: Museum

A new beginning.

Last year, I slacked off with writing this blog, but I’m very happy to be back and starting afresh.

As most of you know, 2011 was an extremely eventful year for the status of Ancient Egyptian antiquities and archaeology in Egypt.

January 2011 saw the Egyptian Revolution and opportunistic looting of many of Egypt’s museums and monuments. The following months saw the departments in charge of Egyptian antiquities and the invidiuals in charge of those departments go through various iterations.

As it stands now, in January 2012, Dr. Mostafa Amin is the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (which now reports directly to Egypt’s Cabinet and Prime Minister).

Excavations continue in Egypt and experts are also focused on repairing objects and sites that have been damaged in the past year.

2012 has already seen a mix of good and bad in the state of Egyptian antiquities.

Thousands of valuable and irreplaceable manuscripts housed in the Institut d’Egypte were badly damaged or destroyed by fire during ongoing conflicts between Egyptian demonstrators and the Egyptian army. Teams of experts and volunteers are now working on correcting the fire damage and mitigating the water damage (from putting out the fires).

Books drying

Damaged books and manuscripts drying in the sun.

From the Valley of the Kings near Luxor comes better news. The discovery of the officially designated King’s Valley 64 (KV 64) was announced just last week. The tomb itself was discovered in January 2011 on the same day as the Egyptian Revolution began, but was hastily secured and left unexcavated until this season. The current occupant of the tomb is not the original occupant, but a later burial of a female temple singer named Nehmes-Bastet. Excavations at the tomb are ongoing.

Coffin of Nehmes-Bastet


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More Stolen Objects Recovered

According to Hawass’ most recent post, 4 more of the objects stolen from the Cairo Museum have been recovered: the statue of Tutankhamun with a harpoon, one of the missing shabtis, Tutankhamun’s trumpet, and Tutankhamun’s fan topper.

Both the statue of Tutankhamun and the fan topper sustained damage and it’s sad to see them that way; we all hope the restoration goes well.

You can see photographs of the damage here.

According to The Luxor Times, the objects were randomly found at a subway station by an employee of the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (formerly the Supreme Council of Antiquities)…



IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I noticed that the fan stock that is listed as missing in the official report is NOT the one that is shown returned damaged to the museum.

As Hawass mentions in his post, JE 62006 is still missing.

However, the damaged fan stock shown in the press photos of these recently returned items is JE 62003. That item is not listed in the official list of missing objects.

You can see these two objects side by side in this photo, taken during excavation and clearance of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

JE 62003 is on the left, JE 62006 is on the right

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More Stolen Objects Recovered

Five objects taken from the Cairo museum have been recovered: statues of Osiris, Neith, Bastet, and an Apis bull, as well as a bronze scepter.

Reportedly, they were recovered when thieves tried to sell them in the local marketplace.

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Some Stolen Objects Returned to Cairo Museum

On Thursday, March 17, twelve of the objects stolen from the Cairo museum were recovered.

Hawass reports that 6 bronze statuettes, one limestone sphinx statue, and 5 necklaces were recovered.

The Luxor Times reports that it was 7 statues and 5 necklaces, but does not specifically mention a sphinx statue. In another article, they include pictures of some of the objects that they report were the ones recovered.

On the recent list from the Cairo Museum, however, there is no mention of a missing sphinx (or even lion) statuette.

Also, only one item was listed as a “necklace” in the list issued by the museum, so this general grouping probably includes “strings of beads” and “collars” as reported in the museum list.

There is also some disagreement over precisely how they were recovered. I’ll try to keep you posted…

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New List of Objects Stolen from the Cairo Museum

The Supreme Council of Antiquities has released a full and “final” list of objects that were taken from the museum during the break-in in January. There are 64 items on the list.

You can find a PDF of the full list, with photographs, here.

Since I know some of you won’t bother going to look, here is my brief summary of the stolen objects.

Figure of Tutankhamun on a skiff

Figure of Tutankhamun wearing the Red Crown

Figure of Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess

Gilded Fanstock of Tutankhamun

Trumpet of Tutankhamun

Wooden Vase

Terracotta Bed Model

Figures/Figurettes (22): Anubis, Bastet, Hapi, Onuris, Osiris (2), Neferhotep, Recumbent Bull, Sobek, Neith, Bastet, Harpocrates, Apis Bull (2), Nefertiti, Amarna Princess (2), Bes, Thoth, Seated Man, Nakht, Young Woman with Wig.

Head of an Amarna princess statue

Topper of a scepter

Bronze scepter

Bronze fish on a stand

Shabti of Yuya (10)

False Beard (2)


Bead bracelet

Collars (2)

Strings of beads (2)

Part of a girdle


Faience amulets and faience bead (11)


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Displays of Thuya’s Canopic Jars

When I noticed the canopic jar topper/stopper sitting on the floor in the original break-in footage from the Cairo museum, I wondered whether any of the jars or stoppers were broken or stolen. They haven’t appeared on any list of damaged or stolen items, but since my curiosity was piqued, I’ve been keeping an eye on information about them. So I’m here on a Friday night, looking through any photos I can find of Thuya’s canopic jars.

Caveats: I have no evidence to suggest that any of Thuya’s canopic jars have been damaged or stolen and am not suggesting that they have; I’m wondering how they may have been displayed (since it seems that they were disturbed during the break-in).

I also have no conclusions for you. I have not been able to find a photograph of the jars on display that is more recent than 2008, so I cannot determine what the display looked like just prior to the break-in this year.

I’m trying to find someone that has seen the display for the canopic jars of Thuya recently. Meanwhile, I’m comparing the photos I have been able to find and noticing the fluidity of the display of these jars…I apologize for the poor image quality of the photos.

All Four Canopic Jars of Thuya
For convenience (since I cannot see the Cairo JE identification numbers on the jars and do not currently have access to the original publication of the tomb’s contents), I’ll refer to these, from left to right in the above photo, as “1,” “2,” “3,” and “4.”
In the photo below, taken in the Cairo museum (on flickr, dated to January, 30, 2008, although I know that does not guarantee that that is the actual date the photo was was taken), you can see jar “1” (recognizable by the oval patterns of the calcite/alabaster). It seems to be in a display case with one jar stopper in front of it (apparently the one that is visibly displaced in the footage from after the break-in), but the photo does not show what else may have been in the case.
In a photo from flickr dated to July 29, 2008, however, you can see the jars displayed with the canopic chest that held them–“1,” is in the bottom-left of the photo, with a different stopper next to it, “3,” is in the upper-right (recognizable by the wavy pattern of the calcite underneath the text, and by the dark smudge above the text, to the viewer’s left), and “4” is in the bottom-right (recognizable by the distinct line and dot marks above the text).
“2” is not pictured, and there doesn’t quite seem to be room for it to be in the case without appearing in the photograph, though the angle of the photograph makes it hard to tell for sure.

canopic chest and jars

In the most recent footage of these canopic jars, there is a different arrangement.

You can see “2” on the left, “1” in the middle, and “3” on the right.

“4” is not pictured, and the canopic chest is not with the jars in this display.

It’s a bit hard to tell in these photos, but the arrangement of the jar stoppers is also different; this most recent arrangement of jars and stoppers appears to be the same as that seen on the Eternal Egypt website, but differs from the arrangement when they were displayed with the canopic chest.

Apparently the arrangement of the jars and stoppers in the museum displays is relatively fluid, and the stoppers are not consistently displayed with the same  jars. Without more photographic or eyewitness evidence, I cannot determine how the jars were arranged at the time of the break-in. If you have any such evidence, please let me know; curiosity killed the cat.

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Footage of Cairo Museum

Updated March 10: Two points I’d like to mention that Egyptologists on the Facebook group Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum pointed out to me.

1. (Nigel J. Hetherington)–empty cases do not necessarily mean stolen objects, since many objects at any given time could be in storage or research rooms in the museum, or out on tours. That’s true, and I’m sure that most of the empty cases have nothing to do with the break-in (here’s to not making a mountain out of a molehill). However, I can’t assume that none of them do, however, since I’m still very confidant that it was one of these canopic jar toppers on the ground in the first  post-break-in footage most of us saw; that would mean that this case (or, possibly, whatever case these were exhibited in prior to the break in) was disturbed or broken, but would not indicate that the objects were broken or stolen.

2. (Margaret Maitland)–Only 3 of Thuya’s canopic jars were on display together previously. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to confirm what display arrangement the jars (and possibly chest) were in most recently, which is frustrating, but I’ll agree that seeing only 3 jars in the footage does NOT mean that one is missing.


Some video footage of the Cairo Museum in its current state (again open to visitors) can be seen here.

Updated: As the narrator points out, it seems that one of the canopic jars of Thuya could be missing; after viewing footage soon after the break-in, I noted that one canopic jar topper was visibly displaced, but there is no mention of a canopic jar in any official missing/damaged item lists from the museum itself.

Three Canopic Jars Belonging to Thuya.

I am not sure whether the canopic chest (which held these jars) is safe–a previous display showing the canopic jars and the canopic chest in the same display case can be seen here.

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