Saturday, August 17, 2013
EGYPTIAN LOOTERS RANSACK A MUSEUM
NEXT DOOR TO ANTINOOPOLIS
NEXT DOOR TO ANTINOOPOLIS
LOOTERS have ransacked a museum only a few short miles from Antinoopolis, smashing display cases and reportedly stealing 1,200 priceless objects.
The Malawi National Museum in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya, adjacent to Antinoopolis, was severely damaged and looted by rioters as part of deadly clashes that erupted across the country.
As this blog entry was being uploaded, clashes were still raging on the streets of Assyut, the largest town near Antinoopolis.
There has also been widespread blatant LOOTING AT ANTINOOPOLIS in recent months.
The entire Assyut/Minya area is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism.
Ironically, the area has always been a region of religious fervor, dating back to Antinoopolis ... and even further back to the 18th Dynasty when "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten founded his capital city Akhetaten a few miles south of the site where Antinous would plunge into the Nile and his sacred city would be founded in the year 130 AD.
This week Egypt witnessed nationwide violence that left hundreds dead and thousands injured after police cleared sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo.
At Minya, pro-Morsi protesters allegedly broke into the museum property, adjacent to the town police station and the Malawi council building, and announced their sit-in in the museum's garden.
Security guards were beaten and injured by some protesters who were attempting to break into the museum building, a security guard who preferred to remain anonymous told Ahram Online.
The pro-Morsi protesters tore down the museum's internal gate and broke into its halls, damaging and stealing some of its treasured artefacts. The looters also tore out the museum surveillance cameras and ransacked offices.
Among the items stolen was this exquisite statuette of a Roman-era Egyptian priest caressing a jar of oil or unguent sacred to his deity.
Afterwards, police and volunteers managed to gather together the artefacts that had not been stolen and transferred them to a secure vault at nearby Al-Ashmunein ... ancient Hermopolis (called Shmunu by the Ancient Egyptians).
Hermopolis was the last city that Antinous saw before his death in October 130 AD.
But the police and volunteers were only able to salvage a few items, most of them badly damaged. Everything that was small enough to be carried was stolen.
"It's a great loss and I'm really saddened by what's happened to such a museum," Antiquities official Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online.
Ibrahim added that an archaeological committee is inspecting the losses and identifying the number of stolen artefacts to provide a list of the missing objects and send it to the prosecutor general to begin investigations.
Unofficial sources said 1,200 stolen objects were on the listed and that the list of stolen artefacts will also be distributed among all Egyptian ports to prevent any smuggling attempts, the antiquities minister continued.
International museums, UNESCO and the INTERPOL are planning to put these artefacts on the Red List to prevent its trading and to return the items safely to Egypt.
The Malawi National Museum internal gate has been restored and put back to its original position.
Despite such incident, antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim decided to open all museums and archaeological sites as normal but will close two hours earlier than usual, except for the Malawi National Museum, which will remain closed.