Tourism Police foil Giza antiquity theft attempt
Former minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: An attempt to loot the Houd Zelikha archaeological site in Al-Badrashin, located south of Giza, was foiled by the Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAP), according to a Tuesday statement by Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim.

During a routine inspection, Tourism and Antiquities policemen found several antiquities, buried inside two pits, which criminals had planned to smuggle at a later date, Ibrahim said.

“Clay fragments, small statues and a granite pillar base of 1.5 diameters, which is most likely a part of a temple colonnade, are among the discovered objects,” Ibrahim added.

The initial examination of the antiquities, carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities Inspection Committee, suggests the pieces are ruins of a mortuary temple belonging to one of the Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom period (2055 BC – 1650 BC).

Nour el-Din Abdel Samad, former head of Archaeological Sites Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told The Cairo Post that no “serious” excavations have been carried out in Houd Zelikha since its official registration as an archaeological site in 2006.

“The site is on the east bank of the Nile River facing the Memphis necropolis, which stretches from the archaeological site of Abu Rawash, 22 km north of Giza, to Dahshour, 32 km south of Giza,” said Abdel Samad.

Houd Zelikha is strongly believed to house burial places and mortuary complexes of several Pharaohs, particularly those of the Old Kingdom period (3200 BC – 2250 BC), Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University Dr. Mohamed Hazem told The Cairo Post.

“The Supreme Council of Antiquities granted the Metropolitan Museum of Art the right to excavate in Houd Zelikha in 2010, but due to Egypt’s turmoil and the security vacuum, the progress has been slow,” Hazem sad.

Egypt’s turmoil has led to a security lapse at a different archaeological sites and storerooms nationwide, leaving Egypt’s treasures vulnerable to attack. A number of museums and storerooms have been looted since the January 25 Revolution.

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