Monday, December 30, 2013

Egyptian History Destroyed by looters


Site of ABU SIR AL MALAQ, Egypt.  (Taken from Trib Total Media, Inc. 2013)

Archaeological sites around Egypt have fallen victim to looters.  In the Minya Province, early Coptic churches fall prey to the looters. These churches were where early Christians came to pray and bury their dead. Monks and scribes lived in the caves around the province and created libraries.  This area in Egypt provides a wealth of knowledge concerning Christianity in Egypt.

Looters dig for artifacts in the caves and churches in order to sell on the market.  Some of the activities they do include:
  • Use dynamite
  • Loosen crosses hanging on church walls
  • Employ a team of robbers
Unfortunately the Egyptian government turns a blind eye to looting in this region.

In the past few months, and specifically the last few weeks, looting of archaeological sites has increased (Saving Antiquities for Everyone).  One such site is that of Abu Sir Al Malaq located about 70 miles from Cairo.  People used to bury their dead at the site from about 3250 BCE to 700 CE.  Now bones lay scattered and mixed with various animal bones, and left exposed to the elements after centuries of beingleft undisturbed.

I pondered why modern-Egyptians would chose to desecrate burials and according to Nadia Ashour, who oversees antiquities in Bani Suef "[a]lthough Islam and Christianity forbid grave-robbing... some Eyptians think their ancestors were pagans and, thus, are fair game to be robbed" (Betsy Hiel, http://triblive.com/usworld/world/4198276-74/bones-tomb-egypt#ixzz2oySWdM2W).

Admidst the looting, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo stands devoid of tourist, and lacks space to store its vast collection, with many items sitting in unadequate storage.  The museum lacks the fund to continuously conserve these items.

Tourism in Egpyt has dropped significantly due to protests in the last few years.  With the Egyptian Museum located in Tahrir Square, which many consider the birthplace of the Egyptian Revolution, tourists are even more weary to venture into the museum.

As a result in a drop of tourism, the country has lost a key source of revenue, even more revenue was lost when the country placed an abrupt halt to its traveling exhibitions due to criticism within the country that sending antiquity away was unpatriotic.

"Egypt was earning $450,000 dollars from each city the exhibit traveled to plus $ 1 million for every 100,000 visitors and 10 percent cut from merchandizing sales..." (Barbara Surk, December 4, 2013)

Despite all this turmoil, Egypt is still making demands for the repatriation of antiquity including the Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer.