CAIRO: Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim inaugurated an exhibition in the Egyptian National Museum on Saturday, comprising 193 of Egypt’s looted treasures that have been recently repatriated from several countries.
The pieces are displayed in hall 44 in the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo until August 10.
“The repatriation of the looted antiquities is attributed to the coordination between the Ministry of Antiquities, the Interpol and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which spared no effort tracking these treasures,” said Ibrahim.
53 out of the 193 repatriated objects were looted from Malawi Museum which was destroyed on August 16, 2013 following the dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins, Ibrahim added.
“1050 artifacts, out of 1098 were looted from Malawi museum,” he added.
Egypt’s turmoil has led to a security lapse at archaeological sites and storerooms nationwide, leaving Egypt’s treasures vulnerable to attack.
On Jan. 28, 2011, the Egyptian National Museum, overlooking Tahrir Square, was looted following the violence in and around the square, which witnessed a subsequent disappearance of the Egyptian police forces.
“The exhibition also includes 10 artifacts out of over 45 others that were stolen from the Egyptian Museum on April 28, 2014,” said Ibrahim
130 out of 206 artifacts were repatriated from several countries, including Belgium, Australia, Germany and France, said Ibrahim.
In October and at the same hall, Ibrahim inaugurated an exhibition consisting of 30 artifacts, 11 of which were stolen during the January 25 Revolution.
Head of the Museums Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities Ahmed Sharaf told The Cairo Post that there are 28 artifacts still missing from the Egyptian museum, and that they are registered with the Interpol.
“Among the artifacts that are still missing is a 3,300 year-old lapis lazuli statue of Akhenaten’s daughter, along with a bronze Ibis, Goddess of writing in ancient Egypt,” said Sharaf.
Looting and tomb robbery is not a widespread phenomenon in Egypt as over 95 percent of the archaeological sites excavated in the last 200 years were almost empty, Abdel Halem Nour el-Din, Former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities told The Cairo Post.
“It was an inside job,” said Nour El Din, “as soon as the tomb paint was dry, robbers – probably the tomb builders – broke into the tombs and stole the treasures,” he continued.
During the inauguration ceremony, Ibrahim honored those who participated in the recovery of the stolen artifacts including ambassadors of Germany, France, Belgium and China, along with head of Tourism and Antiquities Police Department Major General Momtaz Fathi.