Some 689 pieces of antiquity, out of a total 1050 which had been lost from Mallawi Museum during an Islamist raid last August, have already been retrieved; the last few pieces were handed in to the police by members of the public a couple of days ago
The provincial museum housed some 1980 pieces of antiquity that go back to the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman periods of Egypt’s history.
Minya governor Salah Eddin Ziyada has called upon the public to continue their search for the lost pieces and hand them over to the authorities. Security authorities in Mallawi, a town which lies in the Minya region some 230km south of Cairo, hope to retrieve the remaining pieces shortly by the help of the public.
Mallawi Museum had been raided by Islamists who supported the ousted President Muhammad Mursi last August. Eyewitnesses say that, on 14 August, a rioting mob of more than 500 Islamists broke into the museum, plundered it and looted its contents, leaving only the pieces that were impossible to carry such as the granite sarcophaguses. Even these they tried to smash, and desecrated the mummies in the museum.
The same mob that ruined the museum attacked the nearby local government building and police station. So far some 10 suspects have been caught and charged with breaking into all three public facilities.
All the pieces retrieved so far were handed in to the police by members of the public who claim to have found them lying around or supposedly hidden. A local source who asked to remain unnamed told Watani that it was obvious those who stole the antiquities made an attempt to sell them to antiquity dealers but found that to be impossible since the pieces are catalogued and were placed on the international list of stolen antiquities. That was probably why they simply dumped the stolen pieces,or handed them in.
The Mallawi Museum is currently undergoing restoration, as are the antiquities retrieved. Among these have been a bronze statuette of an ibis, golden coins, and the head of a mummy wrapped in linen that goes back to the Greco Roman era (33BC – 640AD).
27 October 2013
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