Looters smash treasures and mummies in Egyptian Museum

CAIRO Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:26pm EST

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Looters broke into the Cairo museum housing the world's greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures, smashing several statues and damaging two mummies, while police battled anti-government protesters on the streets.

Arabiya television showed soldiers, armed and in battle fatigues, patrolling the museum that houses tens of thousands of objects in its galleries and storerooms, including most of the King Tutankhamen collection. Display cases were shattered and several broken statues and porcelain figures lay on the floor.

A number of display cases appeared to have been emptied of some of their contents during Friday night's break-in.

Egypt's top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, told state television Egyptians on the street had tried to protect the building, but that the looters had entered from above. Two mummies on display had been damaged.

"I felt deeply sorry...when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night," Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said.

The museum is adjacent to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party that protesters torched ad earlier set ablaze in protests demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Some was still rising from the building on Saturday morning.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh, Writing by Patrick Werr)

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Comments (19)
MissouriRick wrote:
This is sad. (People might be destroying some of the very archilogical articles that define them as a people; or such; or however it might be said).

Jan 29, 2011 9:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
TamiBell wrote:
One of the first actions the Taliban took after gaining control of Afghanistan was to destroy two 6th Century Buddhist Statues that were of great archeological and cultural importance.

Buddhas of Bamiyanwere two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan. The smaller statue was built in 507 CE, with the larger in 554 CE. Under orders from Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban dynamited the statues despite international protests. Omar and followers believe the statues to be “idols” therefore disrespected Allah.

Egypt holds vastly larger amounts of archeological treasures and historically irreplaceable items from all areas of the world, all religions and cultures. Every bit of care must be taken by assure either militant fundamentalists down to the lowest rioter doing this for fun does not have access.

Jan 29, 2011 11:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
InsaniD wrote:
What a mature display of displeasure. Don’t like what your government is doing? Destroy priceless artifacts from YOUR OWN PAST.

Jan 29, 2011 12:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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