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Luxor Times: 4 Feb 2011

Luxor Times

Friday 4 February 2011

Dr. Zahi Hawass says 4

 3rd February 2011

Again, I want to tell everyone that all the fights and fires in Tahrir Square that many people saw on television yesterday did not affect the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, at all.  There were rumors that began last night that claimed the museum was on fire. I was in contact with the control room of the museum all throughout the night. The cameras of the control room can see outside of the museum into the gardens and also outside of the surrounding walls. When some people saw a car burning, they started to say that the museum was burning as well.  The people spreading these rumors are idiots, because, as I have been saying in each of my statements, if the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, is safe, Egypt is safe.  If there was a fire near the museum, I have the fire department located outside of the museum, and they could quickly control and put out any fire.  

Again, I am the only source of continuing truth concerning antiquities, and these rumors are aimed at making the Egyptian people look bad.  If anything happens to the museum, I would bravely tell everyone all over the world because I am a man of honor, and I would never hide anything from you.  It is from my heart that I tell people everywhere that I am the guardian of these monuments that belong to the whole world.  

The Gezira television station has reported that the monuments of Saqqara have been damaged and items were stolen- this is not true.  The army is in charge of guarding the site; I called the general there 5 minutes ago (it is now 10:30 am on February 3, 2011), and he informed me that Saqqara is safe and all the monuments are fine; nothing is damaged or stolen.  The site of Lisht has excavations run by Dieter Arnold of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The guards of the Lisht monuments called Dieter two days ago to reassure him that they were doing a good job of guarding the site.  I want Dieter to know that Lisht is safe and will remain safe.

If anything happens I will announce it. I want people to know that only two things have happened so far: 1) The break-in at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, resulting in 70 broken objects, all of which can and will be restored, and 2) The break-in at the storage magazine at Qantara, in the Sinai. We do not know exactly how many objects were stolen from this magazine, but a total of 6 boxes were taken.  All of these objects came from excavations or were being stored there from the Port Said Museum. As of today, 288 objects have been returned, and I am sure that any other artifacts still missing from this magazine will be returned.

I want everyone to relax, and know that I am here and we are all watching with open eyes. I want people to know that after 9 days of protests, the monuments are safe. Why? Because the Egyptian people are protecting them.

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Dr. Zahi Hawass says 3

2nd February 2011  

I would like the people of the world to know that today all of the Egyptian monuments are safe. All the archaeological sites in Aswan, such as the Temple of Philae, the Unfinished Obelisk, the Island of Kalabsha, the Tombs of the Nomarchs, and Elephantine Island are completely safe. The temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo are also safe. All of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Tombs of the Nobles, and the temples of Luxor and Karnak are safe. The temples of Dendera, Abydos, the sites in Akhmim, and all sites in Middle Egypt, such as Tuna el-Gebel, Amarna, and Beni Hasan, are safe. All sites in Alexandria are safe. All the mosques, synagogues, and monasteries are safe; nothing has happened to any of them.
The sites of Giza and Saqqara are also safe. Outlaws only broke the padlocks that secure the tombs of Saqqara, and when we went inside to check them we were happy to see that no damage had been done. The most serious offense that occurred was the looting of the storage magazine in Qantara, in the Sinai. On Friday night a group armed with guns entered the magazine and stole some antiquities that were stored in boxes. Yesterday, 288 of these objects were returned. We do not know the full extent of the damage done to this magazine, but we will soon.
All of the museums in Egypt, 24 in total, are safe and unharmed; only the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, was broken into. When I went to the museum on Saturday morning I found out that 70 objects had been broken, but nothing had been stolen. All 70 objects can be restored, and can be safely put back in place. 
I would like to tell the world that the situation in Egypt was bad for two days, beginning on Friday. However, all the archaeological sites in the country were protected by Egyptian people of all ages; I am especially proud of the young Egyptians who formed a line around the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, to protect it from outlaws and further break-ins. I would like UNESCO and people around the world not to worry because the sites of Egypt are safe.

Dr. Zahi Hawass says 2

1st February 2011  
I would like to tell the people all over the world the good news: the storage magazine that was looted in Qantara, in the Sinai, has had 288 objects returned! I cannot say exactly how many objects were lost, but it seems that the majority of what was stolen has been returned.

I would like to say that we were afraid that sites around Alexandria were robbed, but the military is now protecting them all. Also, the site of San el-Hagar in the Delta, where important 21st and 22nd Dynasty tombs are located, is being protected by the local Egyptians. More good news comes from Saqqara, where a committee reported that, although outlaws did open the padlocks of tombs there, they did not enter the tombs or cause any damage; everything is safe. The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, is fine too. A total of seventy objects have been broken, but the museum was dark and the nine robbers did not recognize the value of what was in the vitrines. They opened thirteen cases, threw the seventy objects on the ground and broke them, including one Tutankhamun case, from which they broke the statue of the king on a panther. However, the broken objects can all be restored, and we will begin the restoration process this week.

The commanders of the army are now protecting the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and all of the major sites of Egypt (Luxor, Aswan, Saqqara, and the pyramids of Giza) are safe. The twenty-four museums in Egypt, including the Coptic and Islamic Museums in Cairo, are all safe as well. I would like to say that I am very happy to see that the Egyptian people, young and old, stood as one person against the escaped prisoners to protect monuments all over the country. The monuments are safe because of both the army and the ordinary people.

Some foreigners think Egypt is not interested in protecting our monuments and museums, but that is not true at all. Egypt has 5000 years of civilization, and we love our heritage. I want to send a message to the people of Egypt: all of you are responsible, to ultimately be judged by your own history, to protect your monuments, and should not permit ignorance or outlaws to damage our history- it is the most important thing we own. I am sure the bells from the churches are ringing now, and the voices from the minarets of mosques are calling, to say that Egypt is a safe place to live.

We all believe Egypt will be safe.

Dr. Zahi Hawass says

Due to the internet and communication problems lately in Egypt these are statements by Dr. Zahi Hawass were supposed to be published earlier.

30th January 2011

On Friday, January 28, 2011, when the protest marches began in Cairo I heard that a curfew had been issued that started at 6:00 pm on Friday evening until 7:00 am on Saturday morning. Unfortunately on that day the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, was not well guarded. About a thousand people began to jump over the wall on the eastern side of the museum into the courtyard. On the western side of the museum, we recently finished something I was very proud of, a beautiful gift shop, restaurant, and cafeteria. The people entered the gift shop and stole all the jewelry and escaped; they thought the shop was the museum, thank God! However, ten people entered the museum when they found the fire exit stairs located at the back of it.

As everyone knows, the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, is naturally lit and due to the architectural style of it, there are glass windows on its roof. The criminals broke the glass windows and used ropes to go inside; there is a distance of four meters from the ceiling to the ground of the museum. The ten people broke in when I was at home and although I desperately wanted to go to the museum, I could not leave my house due to the curfew. In the morning, as soon as I woke up, I went directly there. When I arrived I found out that the night before three tourist police officers stayed there overnight because they were not able to get out before the curfew was put in place. These officers, and many young Egyptians who were also there, helped to stop more people from entering the museum. Thankfully, at 10:00 pm on Friday night the army arrived at the museum and gave additional security assistance.

I found out one criminal was still at the museum too. When he had asked the people guarding the museum for water, they took his hands and tied him to the door that lead to the gift shop so that he could not escape! Luckily, the criminals who stole the jewelry from the gift shop did not know where the jewelry inside the museum is kept. They went into the Late Period gallery, but when they found no gold, they broke thirteen vitrines and threw the antiquities on the floor. Then the criminals went to the King Tutankhamun galleries. Thank God they only opened one case! The criminals found a statue of the king on a panther, broke it, and threw it on the floor. I am very thankful that all of the antiquities that were damaged in the museum can be restored, and the tourist police caught all of the criminals that broke into it. On Saturday, the army secured the museum again and guarded it from all sides. I left the museum at 3:00 pm on Saturday, January 29, 2011.
What is really beautiful is that not all Egyptians were involved in the looting of the museum. A very small number of people tried to break, steal, and rob. Sadly, one criminal voice is louder than one hundred voices of peace. The Egyptian people are calling for freedom, not destruction. When I left the museum on Saturday, I was met outside by many Egyptians, who asked if the museum was safe and what they could do to help. The people were happy to see an Egyptian official leave his home and come to Tahrir Square without fear; they loved that I came to the museum.

The curfew started again on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm, and I was receiving messages all night from my inspectors at Saqqara, Dahsur, and Mit Rahina. The magazines and stores of Abusir were opened, and I could not find anyone to protect the antiquities at the site. At this time I still do not know what has happened at Saqqara, but I expect to hear from the inspectors there soon. East of Qantara in the Sinai, we have a large store containing antiquities from the Port Said Museum. Sadly, a large group, armed with guns and a truck, entered the store, opened the boxes in the magazine and took the precious objects. Other groups attempted to enter the Coptic Museum, Royal Jewelry Museum, National Museum of Alexandria, and El Manial Museum. Luckily, the foresighted employees of the Royal Jewelry Museum moved all of the objects into the basement, and sealed it before leaving.

My heart is broken and my blood is boiling. I feel that everything I have done in the last nine years has been destroyed in one day, but all the inspectors, young archaeologists, and administrators, are calling me from sites and museums all over Egypt to tell me that they will give their life to protect our antiquities. Many young Egyptians are in the streets trying to stop the criminals. Due to the circumstances, this behavior is not surprising; criminals and people without a conscious will rob their own country. If the lights went off in New York City or London, even if only for an hour, criminal behavior will occur. I am very proud that Egyptians want to stop these criminals to protect Egypt and its heritage.