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).
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
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.
: 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.
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 items damaged in the recent break-in.
Another shot of some of the damaged objects.