Ancient relics targeted in the uprising

2011-02-05 15:32

Ancient Egyptian history is another of the casualties of the chaos that has reigned throughout Egypt in recent weeks.

From throughout the country, reports are coming in of museums and archaeological sites being looted and vandalised.

Museum curators and dealers in antiquities around the word have now been put on alert to watch out for a potential flood of stolen artifacts from the land of the pharaohs.

Tragically, many of the thieves appear unaware of the cultural, let alone relative material value, of the artefacts, grabbing only what can be easily carried or concealed while often smashing priceless objects.

Soon after the first major demonstrations, looters attacked the famous National Museum in downtown Cairo.

Museum officials say a number of relics were damaged, at least a dozen glass cases were smashed and two mummies were decapitated.

A more than 3 000-year-old wooden statue of King Tutankhamen seated on a panther was thrown to the floor but seems not to have been badly damaged.

Last weekend the Egyptian army secured the museum and detained about 50 men with help from Cairo citizens and young men who formed a human chain outside the building to protect it.

However, Egyptologists and archaeologists say the bigger losses will be at lesser-known museums and storage facilities outside Cairo.

They fear more thefts and damage might occur in coming days.

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