Monday, January 31, 2011

More on - antiquities being damaged in Egypt by looters

We had the same destruction and looting going on across the USA in the 1960's during the black ghetto riots.  I lived through them - under curfew in Milwaukee - I remember - I remember it all.

People who had legitimate grievances and were demonstrating their displeasure in peaceful ways were over-shadowed by a few bad apples who only wanted to get what they could, and would stop at nothing to do it, including arson, armed robbery and theft - looting.  It was horrid then and it's horrid now - except it's going on in Egypt and the prime target for looting is priceless antiquities.

A burnt-out building can, one hopes, be rebuilt.  But a piece of jewelry or an alabaster pot that is 5000 years old - once stolen and sucked up by the illicit antiquities market - it's gone forever, hidden away in a vault or underground playground "museum" for an uber-rich jerk who thinks he is - and is treated as if he were - above the law.

Damage reported at Giza Pyramids, Looters turned back at Karnak – Dr. Gerry Scott, ARCE director, provides an update from Cairo
Monday, January 31, 2011

From The Wall Street Journal
Egypt's Antiquities Fall Victim to the Mob
February 1, 2011
When Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, came to work at the Egyptian Museum on Saturday, he found that looters had broken in and beheaded two mummies—possibly Tutankhamun's grandparents—and looted the ticket booth. Reports indicate that middle-class Egyptians, the tourism police and later the military secured the museum. But now it appears that many other museum's and storehouses have been looted, along with archaeological sites. A vast, impoverished underclass seems less taken with either the nationalist narrative of Egyptian greatness that stretches back to the pharaohs, or the intrinsic value of antiquities for all humanity, and more intrigued by the possibility of gold and other loot. For his part, Mr. Hawass has now been appointed state minister for antiquities by President Hosni Mubarak.

Numerous news reports aver that average citizens are banding together in attempts to keep looters at bay at shops, residential neighborhoods and museums - but, as always, the criminals are better-armed and better-organized. Who's winning the war when it comes to looting?

I recall the famous words from Shakespeare's play "Antony and Cleopatra:"  I am dying, Egypt, dying...  now with a more modern spin, unfortunately.

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