Have you seen Tutankhamun’s sister?

This Limestone figurine "A Daughter of the Pharaoh Akhenaten" was stolen in August 2013
This Limestone figurine “A Daughter of the Pharaoh Akhenaten” was stolen in August 2013

Egypt has issued an alert asking for the return of this statue of Tutankhamun’s sister. This and close to 1000 other objects were stolen from the Mallawi City Museum in Egypt in August. The publicity given to this object in particular is a very good idea, as it will likely drive down any possible licit market for this stolen object, and may perhaps compel its current possessors to return it and any other objects. There have been a reported 600 other objects returned, but there are many many other objects still missing. Egypt gave UNESCO a 300 page list in Arabic of objects which were taken.

In a piece describing the looting and the destruction in Egypt generally in the last 3 years, Richard Spencer offers accounts from those on the ground in Egypt during the Mallawi theft:

“We heard what had happened in Cairo and started to see the gangs gather,” said Jaihan Nessim, a curator at Mallawi Museum. It was clearly in a dangerous position, next to the city’s municipal offices and round the corner from the police station.

“Then there were big crowds, and they started firing into the air.”

Eventually the staff closed the museum and left it in the protection of the tourist police, but they were attacked and driven off. Within hours, the museum had been almost totally wrecked, with attempts to defend it beaten away. A ticket seller was among those killed in the unrest.

The looting was continuing when Miss Hanna arrived three days later.

Eventually, the provincial chief of tourist police, Col Abdulsamie Farghali, called members of his own family to stand guard while she and colleagues inspected the damage and took what could be salvaged to safe storage.

She said she asked two teenagers what they were doing. “They said, ‘The government is destroying their people, so we are destroying this because it belongs to the government’,” she said.

Of 1,089 exhibits, only 46 remained, items too heavy to carry off, and some of those were smashed and burned. Wooden sarcophagi simply split open. An Old Kingdom, 23rd Century BC statue of Pharaoh Pepi and his queen had parts of the faces broken off and its pedestal split.

 

Spencer, Richard. “Tutankhamun’s Sister Goes Missing.Telegraph, November 14, 2013.

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