Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looting in Egypt Continues - Rare Tomb at Saqqara May Be Destroyed

Report by Andrew Lawler at Science Insider:

Egypt Update: Rare Tomb May Have Been Destroyed
by Andrew Lawler on 3 February 2011, 5:26 PM

[Excerpted] Reports of damage to one of the few ancient Egyptian tombs devoted solely to a woman have tempered the news that most of Egypt's priceless antiquities have escaped damage and that teams of foreign archaeologists are safe amid widespread protests against the regime led by Hosni Mubarak.

One archaeologist present at the famous cemetery of Saqqara, south of Cairo, said that as many as 200 looters were digging for treasure in the area this past weekend before police resecured the area. The excavator, who requested anonymity, added that the tomb of Maya, the wet nurse of King Tutankhamun, was "completely destroyed." Another Western archaeologist said, "We still don't know the extent of the damage, but things have been bad and out of control."

Full article.

The good news is that other major archaeological sites appear to be quiet - at the moment. But as of Saturday "all foreign expeditions were ordered to halt work and leave." Leave? Leave the country? Leave the sites but stay in the country? If all is quiet, why should they stop working and leave? This sounds very suspicious to me.

Cf. reports in this article from Archaeology Magazine online:

Letter from Cairo
February 4, 2011
by ARCHAEOLOGY correspondent Mike Elkin

[Excerpted]What concerns the Egyptologists I spoke to, however, is the funerary site of Saqqara, which suffered a 36-hour gap in security before the army moved in around the site. Hawass insists that no looting took place. Some locks on tombs were broken, but the intruders caused no damage inside nor stole anything. "If anything had happened it would have been a disaster," he said.

Several archaeologists with contacts at Saqqara, who requested anonymity, confirmed this assessment. But they added that storage facilities were robbed, something the Supreme Council of Antiquities has denied. Inspectors, sources said, are evaluating the damage to the site with the army because the looters might be armed. The site is now closed to the public.

I spoke to an archaeologist at the French mission, who works at Saqqara and was in Cairo. "We've heard a lot of conflicting stories and many things on the Internet are wrong," he told me, based on calls to his Egyptian counterparts. "People were saying that my site in south Saqqara was destroyed, but in reality only two tents were damaged. We just have to wait and see, because now we have orders to stay out. On Sunday, looters were shooting at inspectors, who were very brave. Looting in Saqqara is nothing new, but before the army arrived, the site was left unguarded."

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...