242 antiques stolen from royal palace in Qena
Palace of Prince Youssef Kamal, photo courtesy of Pia Baracchi
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: A set of at least 242 antiques were stolen from the 1908 palace of Prince Youssef Kamal in Upper Egypt’s city of Naga Hammadi Friday, according to the media coordinator of Egypt’s Heritage Saving Campaign Mohamed al-Sadek.

“Coins, candlesticks, mirrors with gold plated frames, jewelry, daggers crusted with gold, Ottoman-era manuscripts and a silver dinnerware set antiques were among the looted artifacts,” said Sadek who called on the stakeholders to arm guards at cultural sites across Egypt.

The palace was looted by unidentified assailants who broke into the main gate of the Haramlek palace and three rooms on its second floor Friday early morning, he added.

Egypt’s political turmoil since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and its consequent security lapses left much of the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to looting. In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking smuggled artifacts inside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, many items are unaccounted for.

“Antiquities Ministry has assigned a special committee with examining the palace and submitting a report with the details of the losses. The preliminary inventory showed 242 artifacts were missing,” Mohamed Amin from the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Dept. told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Tourism and Antiquities policemen at Upper Egypt’s governorate of Qena are stepping up efforts to restore the artifacts, he added.

“The looted artifacts are registered in the Antiquities Ministry’s archives for Islamic and Coptic antiques and that will make it difficult for the assailants to sell them and easier for tourism and antiquities policemen to track them, said Amin.

The looted artifacts are the personal belongings that have been collected through Kamal’s travels.

Prince Youssef Kamal (1882-1969), an explorer, visual artist and antiquity collector, was the grandson of Ibrahim Pasha, the military leader and son of Mohammed Ali (1805-1849.) He collected over 2,000 antiques from all over the world and had donated them to the Egyptian government after the 1952 Revolution, Islamic and Coptic history professor Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Kamal was also the founder of the first school of the fine Arts in Cairo, said Khourshid.

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