Statues of Tutankhamun damaged at the Egyptian Museum

For the latest updates, see the new blog post.
UPDATE Jan 30th, 12pm: the mummies of Tutankhamun’s great-grandparents damaged?
UPDATE Jan 30th, 2pm: golden fan of Tut damaged, Dr. Zahi Hawass confirms damage to at least one Tut statue
UPDATE Jan 30th, 4:30pm: confirmation of theft from the former director of the Egyptian Museum; Memphis Museum also looted
UPDATE Jan 30th, 5:30pm: statement from Dr. Zahi Hawass posted on his blog
UPDATE Jan 31st, 11am: at least two of Tutankhamun’s gilded statues safe
UPDATE Jan 31st, 1:40pm: new photo showing damaged mummy heads, Hawass appointed Minister of Antiquities
UPDATE Jan 31st, 2:50pm: damaged mummies very unlikely to be Yuya & Tjuya
UPDATE Jan 31st, 3:50pm: raw footage used by Al Jazeera shows Tut figure from panther statue still in the museum
UPDATE Jan 31st, 11:20pm: various reports about extensive damage or lack thereof at Saqqara & Abusir from an Egyptian antiquities inspector, Professor Miroslav Bárta, & Dr. Hawass
UPDATE Feb 1st, 12:45am: two new photos of damage from the Egyptian Museum
UPDATE Feb 1st, 9:40pm: another update from Dr. Hawass and further worrying reports suggesting damage/looting at Saqqara & Abusir
UPDATE Feb 2nd, 12:45am: Facebook group Egyptologists for Egypt says reliefs from the tomb of Maia at Saqqara hacked out EDITED-Maia or Maya?
UPDATE Feb 2nd, 11pm: further suggestions of looting at Saqqara; Salima Ikram trying to assess the situation on the ground
UPDATE Feb 3rd, 9:20am: Salima Ikram reporting from Saqqara
UPDATE Feb 3rd, 4pm: another statement from Dr. Zahi Hawass, photos from the museum, including one of the mummies
UPDATE Feb 4th, 1am: an update from the Dutch team at Saqqara says Abusir & Saqqara looted, a report of pharaonic statues seized in Algeria
UPDATE Feb 4th, 11:50pm: more reports of Saqqara & Abusir under attack, Dr. Hawass says untrue; a report from the Fayum; and supposedly looted statues in Algeria are fakes
UPDATE Feb 5th: for the latest updates, see the new blog post

Devastating footage from Al Jazeera posted on Twitter and Flickr now shows significant damage and destruction in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Some of these images can be found at these sites. The footage appears to show wooden statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun with the gilded figure of the king ripped from the smashed bases. Images below show the statues in their original state, and their current condition:

Gilded statue of Tutankhamun hunting on a papyrus skiff

Gilded statue of Tutankhamun hunting on a papyrus skiff

Gilded statue of Tutankhamun astride a panther

Tut boat
tut panther

Middle Kingdom models of daily life and their have been smashed. The damage on the famous army of Mehseti doesn’t seem to be too severe thankfully, but other beautiful models are broken and strewn on the floor.

Soldiers of Mehseti, Asyut, 11th dynasty

Soldiers of Mehseti, Asyut, 11th dynasty

assiut soldiers

model boat

It is an incredibly sad state of affairs as we await news of the full extent of this destruction of history.
UPDATE: I’ve now identified the smashed wooden boat as also belonging to the tomb of Meseti at Asyut (Cairo 4918). It’s one of the largest model boats in existence, measuring over 1.5 metres, and it dates to approximately 2000BC, so over it’s 4000 years old. Very sad.
Here’s a photo of it from it’s original publication back in 1913, but you can also follow this link to see a photo of it as it looked in the museum.
meseti boat
UPDATE: Watching the actual video footage of the museum from Al Jazeera, I regret to say that I think you can spot at the 1 minute mark (see a screen capture and the video itself below), footage of another destroyed statue of Tutankhamun, one of the two statues depicted below (photos care of the Griffith Institute Archive‘s Tutankhamun collection). Amendment, Jan 31st: it appears that these gilded sandaled feet also belong to the panther statue. See update from Jan 31st, 11am below for further info.
For a colour photo of these statues, see these photos from the blog of Richard Seaman.
Tut feet 2



ANOTHER UPDATE, 30th Jan 12pm:
In the comments, Tamakazura has correctly identified the gilded open work cartonnage case shown on Al Jazeera as belonging to Tjuya, mother of the great Queen Tiye and great-grandmother of Tutankhamun. Below you can compare a photo from The Complete Valley of the Kings, p. 176 and the still from Al Jazeera. The case was placed directly on Tjuya’s body, so it is doubtful that it could have been removed without damaging her mummy. This suggests that the two mummies mentioned by Dr. Zahi Hawass as being beheaded and severely damaged may be those of Yuya and Tjuya. Aiden Dodson has been able to confirm that the case was displayed separately from Tjuya, so her mummy has not been damaged. They are important historical figures as well as two of the best preserved mummies from ancient Egypt, so it would indeed be tragic if this is true. I hope that the incredible burial assemblage found with them, one of the most celebrated discoveries in Egyptology, has not suffered also.
tjuya

Also, in this Al Jazeera report, Dr. Zahi Hawass, comments on the damage at the museum:

UPDATE, 30th Jan 2pm:
The gold fan head featured in the Al Jazeera footage appears to be a fan belonging to Tutankhamun. Here is a photo from the original excavations courtesy of the Griffith Institute- the fan in question is on the far left- and a screen shot of the fan lying in the museum. At least it appears that only the shaft has been broken off and the decoration has been left intact.


Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, has confirmed damage to at least one statue of Tutankhamun. I fear it may be more, but I hope that Dr. Hawass is correct that the damage is minimal. At least his comments are reassuring about the current security situation at the museum, as well as some inspiring words for the Egyptians who attempted to protect the museum.

UPDATE, 30th Jan 4:30pm:
Zeit Online (in German and translated into English) has posted an interview with Wafaa el-Saddik, the director of the Egyptian Museum up until very recently, who says that 13 cases have been smashed, some objects have definitely been stolen, the looting of the museum was an inside job by guards and police, and that the museum in Memphis has also been looted.
UPDATE, 30th Jan 5:30pm: Dr. Zahi Hawass has posted a statement on his own blog. He confirms the destruction of one of the Tutankhamun panther statues. I should also clarify concerning the Tutankhamun statues that have been smashed, that each of them belongs to a pair of statues, and one can only hope that the statues’ twins have survived the damage. See below for images from the wonderful Griffith Institute of the statues as they were found in situ in the Valley of the Kings:


I should also mention that this Al Jazeera screen capture shows a soldier uprooted from the great model army of Meseti, from Asyut, which I mentioned above. At least four of these figures appear to have been torn from the 4000 year old model.

UPDATE, 31st Jan 11am:

In the comments, Mellady mentions that two of the gilded Tutankhamun statues, which are mentioned above shown wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt (the ones *not* on the papyrus boat or the panther), are probably still on tour in the USA with the ‘Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs’ tour. You can see photos of the statues in questions on at these exhibition links. The exhibition was just in New York until January 17th, 2011, and it’s due to open again in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 18th, 2011. If you factor in the time needed to move the objects and set up the new exhibition space, they must be in one of those cities. I have contacted the exhibition organisers to see if I can confirm this. This would suggest that the broken sandalled feet shown in the Al Jazeera footage belong to the figure of Tutankhamun from the panther statue.

Other objects shown in the footage but difficult to specifically identify appear to include a smashed shabti figurine, a bronze statuette of the Apis bull, a travertine calcite (alabaster) vessel, faience jewellery, and a faience hippo figurine from Lisht. The large wooden statue shown in the screen capture below comes from the Meseti boat model. Another model figure shown in the footag, kneeling and armless, also appears to be from the same model.

There are worrying reports of archaeological sites and museums around the country being targeted but no concrete information as of yet. Nevertheless, I am still inspired and awed by the valiant efforts of ordinary Egyptian citizens taking a stand to protect the heritage of which they are so proud. For whatever damage has been done, it’s possible that it could have been much worse without their help. My focus on this site is on the artefacts because that is what I’m best able to comment on, but my thoughts are with the Egyptian people.
mehseti man

UPDATE, 31st Jan 1:40pm:

Via Kate Phizackerley: there is now a photo, purportedly from the Associated Press, showing two damaged mummy heads, posted on this site. I’m not sure about the source of this photo, but the mummies don’t look particularly like Yuya or Tjuya. It’s possible that severe damage has may them harder to identify, or we could be dealing with different individuals. Also, Dr. Zahi Hawass has reportedly been appointed to the new government position of Minister of Antiquities, and Gaber Asfour has been named Minister of Culture.

UPDATE, 31st Jan 2:50pm:
According to Egyptologist Aidan Dodson, the damaged mummies are very unlikely to be Yuya and Tjuya: ‘the gold mummy-cover of Tjuiu was not actually on her body any more… Both mummies were inside their coffins – the photo of Tjuiu shown earlier was from an old display of 1910.’
UPDATE, 31st Jan 3:50pm:
Raw video footage that has emerged on youTubeis no longer on youTube showing more images than first seen on Al Jazeera, including the gilded figure of Tutankhamun from the panther statue, lying in another case at the 0:50 mark. This confirms that the statue was not removed from the museum at the time of damage.

UPDATE Jan 31st, 11:20pm:
There are a number of reports out there, from various people such as an Egyptian antiquities inspector and Professor Miroslav Bárta, suggesting that there may have been a fair amount of damage at Saqqara & Abusir. However, we don’t have much concrete information yet. Dr. Hawass has stated that while tombs have indeed been broken into, nothing has been taken damaged. Vincent Brown’s Talking Pyramids site has a very good compilation of all these reports. In terms of following future stories about the archaeological situation in Egypt, Kate Phizackerley has set up a database of information on sites and museums.

UPDATE Feb 1st, 12:45am:
In the comments, Nicko kindly directed me to some new AP photos of damage in the Egyptian Museum. The two new images appear to show a smashed and emptied case in the foreground with a few gilded canes and sticks lying on top. In the background, you can see the display of chariots and off to the right, the huge golden shrines of Tutankhamun. National Geographic now has a higher resolution version of one of the photos, which shows that Tut’s gold fan mentioned above is also lying on top of the case. A large number of staff, canes, and sticks were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, shown in the following photos from the Griffith Institute Archive, and it is possible that some these are shown in the images.

I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the discussion in the comments and I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to reply to all your remarks!

UPDATE Feb 1st, 9:40pm:

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, released another statement earlier today stating that 288 objects stolen from the magazine in Qantara have been returned. [Considering the magazine reportedly contained 3000 objects, this may not be the best news] He says that 70 objects in the Egyptian Museum suffered damage, including the Tutankhamun panther statue, but it should be possible to repair them. He notes that most of the damage was done because the looters couldn’t see what they were doing in the dark. He says that all other museums and sites are now safe, being guarded by the army and also local Egyptians.

An excellent article at The Art of Counting has reports from a number of Egyptologists. The article states that Maarten Raven, an Egyptologist at the Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, says that the Dutch excavation projects at Saqqara have been looted and destroyed. Richard Wilkinson at the University of Arizona says that the army and neighbourhood watch groups are protecting sites on the west bank at Luxor. Carol Redmount at Berkeley states: “Mme Nadia visited El Hibeh today and said the site has been looted, but should be okay from now on as they are expecting guards to be in place. I also heard that Ihnasya el Medinah had been hit. The Beni Suef Museum is safe.”

UAE newspaper the National also has varying reports about possible damage at Abusir and Saqqara. A rather sensationalist article in the British tabloid the Sun has reported extensive damage at Abusir and in the magazine in Qantara. Overall, there are very worrying reports, especially from Saqqara and Abusir, but also reassurance about many other sites.

Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director Peter Bouckaert is reported to have stated that some of the looters at the Egyptian Museum and elsewhere were found to have been carrying police identification cards. A further approximate 50 individuals have been detained by the army trying to break into the museum.

UPDATE Feb 2nd, 12:45am:

The Facebook group Egyptologists for Egypt has posted the following information: ‘From our Senior Guide. A Sakkara inspector told him that in the last few days Sakkara has been ransacked. Maia is destroyed and even the reliefs in the burial chamber have been hacked out. There is mass digging around the Unas area in particular. The inspector could not get as far as the Teti area as he was threatened with guns but the mastabas will have suffered the same fate. A black day (via P.Allingham).’

This information does not make it clear whether the tomb referred to is that of Maia, wet nurse of Tutankhamun, or that of Maya, the Overseer of the Treasury and Overseer of Works under Tutankhamun. I originally assumed because of the spelling that it was more likely to refer to the lady Maia, but I should stress that with very little information so far, we cannot really be sure. Because of the comments on the damage by the Dutch Mission it seems more likely that Maya’s tomb is the one that has been hit. I’m posting information about both tombs below until we can get any further news. Either way, if the reports are true, then it seems that artefacts from that particular period of Egyptian history have suffered especially.

Dr. Maarten Raven, the Field Director of the Dutch Mission, has posted this statement: ‘There are various reports circulating on the internet about widespread looting in Saqqara and Abusir. However, we would like to stress that so far we have not been able to obtain any confirmation of this, except the following. On Saturday 29 January our restoration architect in Cairo told us that his contractor at Saqqara confirmed the looting in Saqqara. On Sunday 30 January the SCA Director of Saqqara told us that the site of the Dutch expedition has been involved in the looting. He would or could not give further details, and that is still the current situation. We have so far been unable to establish direct contact with people who know more.’
I suggest following the Egyptological Looting Database for further updates on the Saqqara.

The tomb of Maya and his wife Merit was originally discovered by Lepsius in 1843 and then lost until its rediscovery in 1986 by a joint mission of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden and the EES. Maya served under both Tutankhamun and Horemheb.

The tomb of Maya, Overseer of the Treasury, from the Dutch Excavations

The tomb of Maya, Overseer of the Treasury, from the Dutch Excavations

Maia was the wet nurse of Tutankhamun and a high ranking woman. Her tomb was discovered at Saqqara in 1997 by Alain Zivie and the French Mission (info in English). The following video shows scenes from the tomb of Maia with Alain Zivie.

A relief from the tomb depicting Maia and the young Tutankhamun

Photo of a tomb relief depicting Maia and the young Tutankhamun

UPDATE Feb 2nd, 11pm:

No further news of sites being attacked today, hopefully this is a good sign, but there have been a few note-worthy posts on the Facebook group Restore + save the Egyptian Museum, which I’d recommend following for updates directly from Egyptologists, some relayed from the field. I’m posting screen captures of them below: another report of Saqqara looting, a pledge by Dr. Salima Ikram in Egypt to gather further info about sites, and an impassioned plea from Tahrir Square by a member of the group. Also, the IAE has posted this statement and Dr. Mark Lehner, director of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project, is still planning to head out to Egypt next week.
sarah saqqara
salima
tahrir

UPDATE Feb 3rd, 9:20am:

Peter Allingham reports on behalf of Dr. Salima Ikram from Saqqara, again from the very helpful Facebook group Restore + save the Egyptian Museum:
salima 2

Update: Feb 3rd, 4pm:

Dr. Zahi Hawass has posted another statement reassuring everyone about the safety and security of the museum and other sites, and has uploaded photos from the museum showing the heavy security in place. Dr. Hawass also expresses his frustration with reports of damage elsewhere, which he insists is not true, including Saqqara. I hope he will understand that the only reason everyone is concerned about possible damage is because of our love for Egypt and its incredible antiquities. The photos on Dr. Hawass’ site also include a new image of one of the damaged mummies’ heads (still unidentified) and the broken vitrine with the fan and canes.

Update: Feb 4th, 1am:

A news update from the Dutch excavation team at Saqqara:
‘Thursday 3 February 14:00 – A reliable source in Cairo (who had this directly from one of the SCA inspectors at Saqqara) confirmed that the Czech magazine at Abusir and the Cairo University magazine at Saqqara have been looted. No confirmation could be had about private tombs. Apparently doors have been forcibly opened but whether reliefs have been taken is not clear. The inspectors themselves have not yet had access to all parts of the site.’

A story from the Times of Algeria posted by Kate says that two pharonic statues were found in the possession of four individuals who have now been arrested. There are no images or further details so the identification of the statues might not necessarily be accurate.

Update: Feb 4th, 11:50pm:

Two reports from CultureGrrl and Science said to be from unnamed Egyptologists say that there has been a lot of damage in Saqqara and Abusir, while another statement from Dr. Zahi Hawass says that the reports are untrue.

A report from the Hungarian team at Lahun says there has been some illicit digging in the Fayum area but an attempted looting of Karanis magazine was stopped by the SCA and local Egyptians.

The story from Algeria yesterday about smuggled stolen Egyptian statues being found turns out only to involve fakes, which is apparent from the new photo that has been posted.

104 thoughts on “Statues of Tutankhamun damaged at the Egyptian Museum

  1. Not being an Egyptologist, I hadn’t recognized the gilt-edged papyrus skiff of Tutankhamen when I saw it broken on the floor of the museum via al-Jazeera. So the damage looked less to me than appears to be the case. One can only grieve.

  2. There’s alot of brouhaha about this in the same propaganda media outlets that are trying to paint the opposition as islamists… Even though the Muslim Brotherhood refused to approve of the protests. And tons of astroturfers too.

    When I heard of the protests I thought this is optimistic, as this is a chance of getting Zahi Hawass, Mubarak’s courrt “archaeologist” and their absurd “nationalist” agenda and a possible opportunity to start Egyptology for real. It seems pretty plausible this may have been staged. It’s a common tactic to use agents provocateurs there is no place this has not been used or a protest movement without them, no exception anywhere in history. I recall in a certain country, when there was talk of getting tanks on the streets also, and again the ruling party’s headquarters was burned people plcaed among the protests too good care to burn certain documents of the secret police. And this is very much in lne with Mubarak’s propaganda line about “muslim fanatics” and his abuse of archaeological artefacts for authoritarina purposes (reminds me of certain things in some countries in southeast Europe).

    Nice blog!

  3. Que pena ver estas imagenes, … me da mucha tristeza…. por favor id informando mas de lo que esta pasando¿donde puedo ver informacion?’

  4. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/live/egypt_wire/egypt_wire.html#41

    “Al-Aribaya TV is reporting that protesters are trying to protect the National Museum, which contains some of Egypt’s most prized artifacts, from looters as the building next to it burns.”

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/live/egypt_wire/egypt_wire.html#68

    “Egypt’s state-run TV station says the army has secured the National Museum, which contains the country’s prizes ancient artifacts. Earlier, Al-Jazeera reported that protesters had protected the museum from looting by forming a human chain around the museum.

    The building next to the museum, the ruling party’s national headquarters, is burning and has been looted. ”

    So this makes me suspect what I said, in a hurry, and with a lot of typos, in my previous comment, even more strongly.

    I was making a paralel with state support of ancient archaeology for ideological purposes in southeast Europe, by imposed totalitarian and homegrown authoritarian regimes, I think I didn’t make my point very clear.

  5. Oh and the state run TV conveniently doesn’t mention the Army is now (partially?) actually siding with the protesters, unlike the police. I’m here seeing paralles with Romania. And Tunisia for a more recent example.

  6. Heartbreaking indeed! The whole affair.

    I was so afraid this was going to happen.

    Is there any news about the two pharonic mummies that have been damaged? Has Hawass mentioned names already?

  7. Heartbreaking to see, but it warms my heart to see all the civilians linking arms to protect their heritage. This Museum must be protected for all the future generations to come after us.

  8. truly heartbreaking… Whether staged or not, it’s a huge loss. And now I think I’ll go try to educate myself a bit more as to what is really happening. Thanks to the commenters who have attempted to insert an element of reality into these events.

    dawn leblanc
    artrubicon.com

  9. Excellent work in identifying the items. I guess I didn’t identify the Tutankhamun ones at first because I didn’t want to see what I was seeing. But when I saw those gilded feet on that base, my heart sank. They said the nine men who were caught had two mummy heads and two statues — I’m guessing these were the two statues in question as they are missing from the bases.

    Like Marsa, I figured this might happen, and I’m waiting on the names of the pharaohs as well. I will be watching this site for any news. This is a horrible day in world history, and has quickly changed my mind about returning any other artifacts to Egypt. Tragic.

  10. I haven’t noticed commenters inserting reality. Far from it. The image of valiant protesters protecting their heritage may be romantic, but it helps to remember that they’re the same ones who put the museum in serious danger by setting fire to the NDP headquarters. The people who are calling the whole thing “staged” have every bit as much an ulterior motive as the ones they accuse. Let’s not forget that none of this would have happened if the protesters had stayed home instead of causing trouble.

  11. How did these hooligans get so far into the museum and do this kind of damage not only national treasures but world heritage treasures without being shot!!!

  12. I knew this would happen. Why they didn’t they think about protecting it? That place should tightly secured at all time. These artifacts are far more important than the conflit. They are part of human history, and it makes me extremely mad to see idiots destroy them!

    Glad to see a few Egyptians know the value of their history.

  13. Now, maybe, people like Hawass, will understand why museums and collectors in developed countries like the USA, England, etc don’t want to return antiquities to places like Egypt! Thank goodness for the European, English, and American adventurers, scientists, and military who were able to secure ancient antiquities lest they are lost forever in the warzone that is the middle east.

  14. It is indeed a sad day for the world, to have some of the most wonderful and fascinating ancient Egyptian artifacts damaged or destroyed. Willow I agree that this should cause pause for ALL the holders of ancient Egyptian artifacts to hold on to them, as it does not appear that the majority of the people of Egypt understand the importance of the artifacts to WORLD history. That is not to say that there are not some that care and very deeply about their heritage and their gifts to the world, but this current situation does not show me, personally very much. Sad, Sad, Sad. I grieve for the loss and the damage.

  15. In reply to V:

    “When I heard of the protests I thought this is optimistic, as this is a chance of getting Zahi Hawass, Mubarak’s courrt “archaeologist” and their absurd “nationalist” agenda and a possible opportunity to start Egyptology for real. It seems pretty plausible this may have been staged.”

    Zahi Hawass is not someone to be attacked here for being on a nationalist agenda, he has put his whole life into the preservation and integrity of Egypt’s antiquities, and being an archeologist myself, I can understand why he treats the artifacts the way he does. It is national pride, and they want them back, and it is nothing short of a tragedy that this has happened to items which have survived for thousands of years, to be targeted unfairly by looters. This is, in a way, a parallel to what happened in Baghdad the year Saddam fell, save that the destruction here was at last circumvented for the pride of the nation shared by the protesters who stood in front of the building (with the army) to PROTECT it. Hawass is THE authority on Egyptian antiquities, and I think to suggest that destruction of his life effort to PRESERVE them as being staged is ignorant and absurd.

    “And this is very much in lne with Mubarak’s propaganda line about “muslim fanatics” and his abuse of archaeological artefacts for authoritarina purposes (reminds me of certain things in some countries in southeast Europe).”

    *Artifacts. I think you’re completely missing what has happened here. These artifacts have nothing to do with the state of gov’t. in Egypt. They are an unfortunate bystander that has fallen victim to the few extremists involved in the protest–extreme in the sense that they would seek to destroy or loot national symbols for misunderstood purposes, or for the sake of creating more destruction and outrage.

  16. It is a catastrophe and was not worse because the vandals were unable to continue. In a picture there is a cartonnage covered with gold on the floor. I believe it belongs to the mummy of Tuya, mother of Queen Tiye. I hope that the mummy has not been damaged. Another photo shows part of a fan of Tutankhamun, also damaged. I hope the situation gets better in the country. No more deaths or destruction of history.

  17. Yes, thank you for your detective work, Margaret. Let’s hope the damage can be repaired. I’m still secretly hoping that these will turn out to be replicas, and that the real things are hidden away in the bowels of the museum.

  18. Sheer ignorance. It’s hard to imagine a more selfish and greedy behaviour. Such an amazing history in this country, I can not stand to read of this.

  19. I think you are right and that three statues of Tutankhamun have been ripped from their bases. The panther is in a desparate state. These were three of the most beautiful objects.

  20. Praying for protection of the priceless treasures housed in Egypt…and for the country we love to be unified again

  21. “…This is a horrible day in world history, and has quickly changed my mind about returning any other artifacts to Egypt.”
    How convenient. Western looters remain above accountability!

  22. As a retired museum curator, I find this very upsetting but not nearly as bad as what happened in Baghdad eight years ago. The photos suggest that the damage was accidental, or that the thieves tried to break off and take the gilded parts, assuming they’d be more valuable.

    The reports say the thieves were caught, so any items they were trying to make off with should have been recovered. Any good conservator should be able to repair the items so that the damage is undetectable, and I’m sure the Cairo museum will engage the best conservators there are.

    That doesn’t make this any less of a crime against all human culture and history, but it could have been so much worse.

  23. Oh, and my comment assumes that the news reports can be taken at face value. It’s certainly possible that this was staged to some extent, as V suggested.

  24. I am guessing that the mummies taken were Yuya and Thuya. If you look at the video where some of these images were taken from, you can see one of the coffins and below it was the cover for the mummy and some black material which I would say came from the mummy. Most of this damage appears to be in the rooms on the top floor in the center section, which is where the Yuya and Thuya artifacts were displayed.

    I think that the two Royal Mummy rooms were locked so it would have been difficult for them to get in quickly, but other possibilities are perhaps the newly identified mummy of Queen Tiye which was outside the newly opened mummy room, or at least it was last May.

  25. Thank you for your reporting and excellent research please continue to keep us informed!

  26. Though I am with the people of Egypt to remove the Mubarak regime, I am totally against the destruction of the artifacts in the Cairo Museum. I guess I can understand why the people went into the museum and destroyed the ancient artifacts because it is not their history. The ancient Egyptians didn’t look like any people of modern day Egypt. The Arabs came into Egypt in the 7th century, they even tried to take down the Pyramids but couldn’t so they used the smooth casings on the Pyramids to build their Mosque. The ancient Egyptians were Black Africans and were conquered by different nations like, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Hyksos, French, British, Persians, etc. The current Egyptians are a mixture of all these conquerors. The Egyptian government must do a better job at securing the ancient artifacts from looters, vandalism and people that want to sell the artifacts on the black market to western collectors, also the lives of the people must be protected and their property. Peace

  27. The figure of the leopard with the statue on its back is one of pair discovered in the tomb. I remember seeing one of them when it was was part of the US exhibit back in the 70’s. The picture of the undamaged state is, I believe, the “Cairo# 60714, Carter # 289B” . The body of the damaged leopard appears to be thicker, possibly the companion piece to it? One leopard has straight “V” shaped “eyebrows” (the one that toured the US) the other has more natural curved “eyebrows”.

    The “harpooner” also thankfully has a identical companion piece. Again, the catalog number for the one that toured the US in the 70’s was “Cairo #60709 Carter#275c”

    Not to make light of this tragedy, but hoping the other objects weren’t damaged?

  28. Let us hope that these are fakes made to look like they had done damage. I do not believe that that would hurt artifact like this

  29. I saw on the flickr page with all the photos that a gilded openwork mummy-cover from the Tomb of Yuya and Tuyu was lying on the floor with some blackish looking organic debris? Next to it. I wonder if Yuya and Tuyu were the two mummies vandalized?
    http://hyperallergic.com/17815/egyptian-museum-damage/
    Maybe I am wrong and this cover is from elsewhere…will double check.

  30. Thank your for the update.

    I also identified the feet you see on the video as one of the statues of Tut’s treasures by looking at the video
    Here: http://www.grisel.net/images/egypt/tut_statues.jpg you can see that the statues were indeed standing next to eachother in the museum.

    The feet must be from the statue from a king wearing the white crown or the statue next to it, were the king wears the red crown. Maybe only the two outer statues in the same case have been destroyed… hopefully.

    All the statues you identified have travelled to the UK in 1972 for a loan exibition in the Britisch Museum marking the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tut. I have the catalogue from the exibition here, with full descriptions. The statues .. (sigh)… WERE all between 70 and 80 cm’s tall and must have been quite heavy it seems to me.

    I have also looked trough another book (from T.G.H. James – the great pharo’s) with pictures of all (public) artifacts from Tut’s tomb and I can’t find the boat or the dagamed wooden statues you see in the video so possibly they are not Tut’s.

  31. It`s a tragedy, but in reality, every artifact taken from the ground is in far greater danger from that moment on.
    Digging is destroying, even if destruction follows 100-200 years after the dig.
    It´s also naive to think that looting won`t happen in Europe or the US. It all depends on political stability.
    Who knows what may happen in the nearer future to our countrys and museums?
    Best possible documentation is called for …

  32. Reply to KIM (14 -30 Jan 2011 at 12:54 am)
    >> Dear Kim, as a lover of Egyptian art since I was a child, I am, like you, terribly saddened by these images and reports, ( published here ‘eloquently’, indeed, by Margaret ). Now, it saddens me even more (much more, would you believe?) that someone, somewhere, thinks that the very pyramids could be more important than the houses of living people being looted in the night (hence, the neighbourhood patrols) or the piles of dead bodies ( Hundreds mourn the dead in Egypt – Al Jazeera -http://english.aljazeera.net/video/middleeast/2011/01/2011129171519806580.html). As for myself, I refuse to neglect the sanctity of life’s worth for the charm of beautiful fossils, as if those weren’t themselves a mark of former lives. There’s much to mourn in all this. I just hope that the pragmatical barrier of the country’s economic need to have internet awaken by Monday (or else, banks will be half-frozen) speeds a peaceful outcome. Thank you.

  33. No matter if the damage is the ‘work’ (?) of vandals, Government ‘provocateur’ agents, looters seeking riches to sell to private collectors, or Martians: It is a very sad time for Humankind. Political regimes will come and go. We individuals will come and go. But objects which tell about our History as human beings have been destroyed. Now we all are less human than before.

  34. The pattern of destruction seems just that–a pattern, not something that would be done if economic gain was the primary motive.

    Then this leaves us to speculate about why would someone want to enter the museum to merely destroy. What exactly is going on? Who benefits?

    Contrary to Weiss’ comment, “Zahi Hawass is not someone to be attacked here for being on a nationalist agenda, he has put his whole life into the preservation and integrity of Egypt’s antiquities, and being an archeologist myself, I can understand why he treats the artifacts the way he does.” & “Hawass is THE authority on Egyptian antiquities, and I think to suggest that destruction of his life effort to PRESERVE them as being staged is ignorant and absurd.”

    I have to take issue with both statements: if the guiding principle in Mr. Hawass’ life is Egyptology, then why didn’t he pick up the phone and call Susanne Mubarak–with whom he did a book–and make sure the museum was covered? And last time I was there, his office was at the pyramids, not in the mess of downtown Cairo traffic. And the head of the Iraqi museum slept in the museum–I wonder where Zahi is sleeping tonight?

    As for his scholarship and him being THE authority, no single person can or indeed is, an authority on over 200 years of bibliolography and four millennia of culture. A more scholarly way of referencing someone’s work is simply stating, “Mr. X and Ms. Y are the recognized authorities on ancient Egyptian beer brewing for our generation.”

    But enough of putting showmen into context: the issue here is indeed the use of the past for current political gain. Post Baghdad, who would benefit from the ritual destruction of some select objects from this museum?

  35. We were at Egyptian Museum last sunday,
    and it is very difficult to digest the damage being witnessed.
    The present generation got a huge heritage accidently and the present vandalism proves that we are still animals and not developed human beings.
    We can only express sorrow towards the present Egypt damaging the great past.

  36. This is true heartbreaking 🙁
    However, this is expected from secret security agents who were daily terrorising Egyptian people and applying corruption all-round for everything and anything should be done under their hands.

    What truly gives hope is how young people are organising protecting their belongings and treasures.
    Hope to hear something positive from you, westerns whom your regimes are always backing this tyrant, Mubarak and his people, ex. Mr. Hawas.

  37. We have all heard for many years what a terrible thing it was for so many Egyptian artifacts to have been removed during the latter part of the last century and put in museums in other countries around the world. The radical Muslim factions have already made it quite clear that they will destroy these so-called works left by the ancient idol worshipers when and if they get control. In retrospect, it is a blessing that so many objects are safely housed around the world and away from the crazies. It is heartbreaking to see such beauty destroyed. Thank god that at least some of our world heritage from the beginnings of civilization can remain for us to marvel over and hope to understand those that came before us. These were the people that helped us to understand what it is to be human and reach for a higher potential which we can not allow to fall by the wayside. The destruction has to stop at any cost!
    This carnage cannot help but deeply wound the hearts of those of us who love beauty and creativity. My friends, it is a sad day for all of us.
    Jamie Lee

  38. Obviously, the loss of any Egyptian artifacts is a tragedy. Margaret has done a very useful service in trying to identify the damage. That being said, I’m a little taken aback by some of the comments on the blog, which seem to be more concerned to be more concerned with Egypt’s past than its present and future:

    “Let’s not forget that none of this would have happened if the protesters had stayed home instead of causing trouble.”

    Ahh yes, damn those Egyptians for trying to overthrow a brutal authoritarian regime that robs, imprisons, and tortures its own people.

    “I knew this would happen. Why they didn’t they think about protecting it? That place should tightly secured at all time. These artifacts are far more important than the conflit. ”

    I’m not entirely sure I would place artifacts above the future of 80 million people.

    “Now, maybe, people like Hawass, will understand why museums and collectors in developed countries like the USA, England, etc don’t want to return antiquities to places like Egypt! Thank goodness for the European, English, and American adventurers, scientists, and military who were able to secure ancient antiquities lest they are lost forever in the warzone that is the middle east.”

    Well, there’s an interesting argument for looting. Does it apply at the individual level too? If I think I can take better care of your car than you can, does that justify invading your home and taking it? (This is leaving aside the fact that through the 19th and 20th centuries, Europe was a far, far more intensive warzone than the Middle East. Remember WWII? Perhaps they should have looted us–we destroyed entire cities).

    I’m certainly not endorsing the destruction of cultural heritage, and precious few Egyptians would do so either. However, I think Joao said it best: “Now, it saddens me even more (much more, would you believe?) that someone, somewhere, thinks that the very pyramids could be more important than the houses of living people being looted in the night (hence, the neighbourhood patrols) or the piles of dead bodies… As for myself, I refuse to neglect the sanctity of life’s worth for the charm of beautiful fossils, as if those weren’t themselves a mark of former lives. There’s much to mourn in all this.”

  39. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBtYLBQPRGQ&feature=player_embedded

    See this please

    US / West Must support the Egyptians for their needs.

    Moubrak System is not accepted any more – 30 years is more than enough.

    Security is a must – to our families and kids.
    Anything not as per Egyptians aim, peoples will never forgive this to the west or US in particularly.

    Egyptian have many acceptable & better alternatives faces, can be acceptable to Western and those faces respect all other commitments towards US/ Others.

    No more military government is acceptable to the all Egyptians.

  40. I can’t describe how I feel with this news… But I would like every treasures of ancient Egypt were in other country well protected because it’s so disappointing to see Egyptians do not realize what they have. They just think to get money from tourism.

  41. It will be interesting to hear what the “looters” say about why they did it; we are speculating all over the place here, and we may all be totally wrong–but of course, they might lie about their own motives, or be coerced into giving false testimony…

    So far, we have only the video of the damage to go on. Does anyone know whether there was any social network (Twitter/Facebook) call to attack the museum? Also, although 9 looters were caught, were there more that were actually kept out by the human cordon?

    There’s a lot of questions in my mind right now.

    Was this for money? If they were “looting,” did they expect to be able to sell such well-known objects to private collectors?
    If they were planning on melting down gilding, why take the time to break the statues (does getting rid of the base really make the object that much lighter or more portable)?

    Furthermore, if it was for money, why destroy the mummies, and the wooden boat model and Nubian army? Why break the fan, but leave the gold topper (or was it taken, but left during the ensuing flight, then placed on the case for photographing?)?

    Or did they want some personal trophy?

    Was it really planned out, or completely opportunistic? Was it a real, heartfelt anger against the museum, and museum workers, since they are supported by the current government? Or were these individuals just reveling in destruction or power?

    Or some of all of these motives?

  42. If the looting was real and this was what was left I wonder what is actually missing and not announced yet.

    I do think though that this wasn’t looters but vandals who are a bit more hard lined Muslims who don’t care about the value historically or tourist wise for their country. They see them as “apostasy” and items to be destroyed. Reminds me of the destruction of the wall carvings in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

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