Breaking: Images of Egyptian Museum Damage [UPDATE 34] King Tut Objects Damaged?

by Hrag Vartanian on January 29, 2011


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UPDATE 24: Sat. Jan 29 12:43pm EST: Al-Jazeera has broadcast video of the damage at the National Museum, aka Egyptian Museum. The strange this about these images is that they demonstrate that the damage is certainly more than a few mummies, which is what Reuters reported that Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said:

“Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies,” he said.

More as it develops, though it certainly appears that there are soldiers in the Museum.

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UPDATE 25: Sat. Jan 29 12:57pm EST: This photo via Twitter of the “human wall” protecting the National Museum from looters:

And BBC broadcast the following photos a few moments ago:

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UPDATE 26: Sat. Jan 29 3:39pm EST: Some troubling news via Al-Jazeera. The fire at the NDP headquarters is still burning and there is fear that it could potential spread to the National Museum. So, we’re NOT out of the woods yet.

Another image from Al-Jazeera a few minutes later:

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UPDATE 27: Sat. Jan 29 4:22pm EST: Some video footage from inside the museum.This appears to be the exact same footage shown on Al-Jazeera.

via NYTimes’s The Lede blog & @cmonstah

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UPDATE 28: Sat. Jan 29 4:22pm EST: Numerous news sources are saying that the Egyptian authorities have closed the Pyramids of Giza to tourists. It appears there are tourists still visiting tourist sites in Egypt. As incredible as that sounds, it appears to be true.

Also, here is a screenshot of Zahi Hawass, chairman of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, speaking to Al-Jazeera in front of the National Museum:

Hawass shared his concern about the fire at the NDP building, which is next door to the National Museum. This from Associated Press, via NPR:

“If it is damaged through looting or fire, it would be a loss to all humankind,” he said.

And he says the following about the looters and the damage sustained by the Museum:

“They managed to stop them,” Hawass said. He added that the would-be looters only vandalized two mummies, ripping their heads off. They also cleared out the museum gift shop.

The prized King Tutankhamun exhibit had not been damaged and was safe, he said.

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UPDATE 29: Sat. Jan 29 4:22pm EST: Another view of the of the NDP Headquarters fire and its proximity to the National Museum, via Danny Ramadan. The image is obviously from earlier today and it appears to be taken from Tahrir Square:

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UPDATE 30: Sat. Jan 29 6:09pm EST: The AP story on NPR now has the very vivid title:


I don’t remember that being the title earlier today, but otherwise the body of the article seems to be the same.

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UPDATE 31: Sat. Jan 29 6:17pm EST: We can’t verify this yet but we have seen something similar to this echoing around the web for a few hours now. If this is true, this may seal the fate of the NDP and spark more anger from the Egyptian people. via HistoryOftheAncientWorld:

Germany’s ZDF television has reported that a high-ranking member of the ruling National Democratic Party was involved in the attack on the museum, which holds some of the country’s most important historical artifacts, including the King Tutankhamun exhibit.

Can anyone confirm?


I can confirm: german TV ZDF reports acording to eyewitnesses that high NDP officials have been involved in looting the museum last night. Anyone in cairo to confirm this?

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UPDATE 32: Sat. Jan 29 6:36pm EST: Daily Mail has published an AP photo of the Egyptian army standing guard in front of the Pyramids of Giza, with the following title, “Egyptian Looters Destroy 2,000-Year-Old Mummies in Bid to Steal King Tut’s Treasures“:

The article has some more info and the number of looters:

Nine men broke into the Egyptian Museum in the early hours of yesterday, taking advantage of damage caused to the building’s security by a fire in the neighbouring headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

They were caught by police and a crowd of civilians while carrying out the skulls of two mummies and two statues estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.

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UPDATE 33: Sat. Jan 29 7:37pm EST: King Tut Objects Damaged?

The Eloquent Peasant Egyptopologist blog has done some fascinating detective work and been trying to figure out what was exactly damaged. Her suggestions for the damaged pieces in the TV footage that has been making the rounds is quite convincing.

Here are two juxtapositions between artifact photos and screenshots from Al-Jazeera, check her blog for more. I researched the titles and dates of the object here and here. If this research is true than at least some of the damaged objects are part of the world-renowned King Tut stash:

Left, Ritual Figures of King Tut Hunting a Hippopotamus; Right, Ritual Figures of King Tut Astride a Panther — Both objects date from around the time of the death of Tutankhamun, in 1324 BC. They were discovered, along with the rest of the treasures of Tut's tomb, in 1922. (images via TheEloquentPeasant)

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UPDATE 34: Sat. Jan 29 11:35pm EST: Since there doesn’t appear to be any new developments, we’re calling it quits tonight. Stay tuned for updates tomorrow but until then we wanted to say good night with this screenshot from an AP video from earlier today (Saturday) showing firefighters extinguishing the fire at the NDP headquarters high-rise. You can see the reddish National Museum building on the right:

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  • Ranefer (Slovakia)

    AS a christian I wish the best to egyptian people, of course.
    As a friend of egyptology I have a this serious Question:
    Does anybody from you know already whom belong those 2 damagged mumies ???
    Thanks for kind reply if you know it.

  • kleoeszter

    I write about Hungary,and I like Egypt, the lover of the Egyptology very very much I am.I had been many times already on the different parts of Egypt.
    Catastrophe, I hope what happens there soon for your solver the problems.And trust the art treasures do everything in the interest of his protection in him.for the Egyptian folk i wish you all the best.

  • nld

    An attempt to discredit the demonstrating people of Egypt.

  • Daniel Jackson

    Former director of the egyptian museum Wafaa as-Saddik confirms acording to german newspaper that the museum at memphis near cairo has been completely looted. Egyptian museum has been damaged and looted by policemen and guards, acording to her.

    For those of you able to read german:

    • Thank you for the fantastic info. I’ve blogged it on our new thread:

    • Pixi Anderson

      Question: Why commit their own security guards such barbarism?

      El-Saddik: They are extremely poorly paid. I’ve written the crooked finger and money for these people demanded more. All for free. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who basically conscripts in police uniforms are. These policemen earn even less. Again and again, these young fathers to me. You have nothing. One has everything he had at home, sold, medicine for his sick child to be able to get. Other hungry even at home. But the Egyptian ministry of culture – that celebrates itself with expensive projects and receptions.


      • Pixi Anderson

        (oops it cut off )

        “Those were our own people”
        The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has been looted – by his own guards. This is partly because of low wages, says the former museum director Wafaa el-Saddik.

        © Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty Images

        Tank outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on 29 January. In addition, burning the main building of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Mubarak.
        Question: looter on Friday evening the Egyptian Museum in Cairo attack. What exactly happened?


        Wafaa el-Saddik: The situation is still very unclear. There are many pieces on the floor was thrown and destroyed, including statues of gods from the treasure of Tutankhamun. A total of 13 cases were smashed. We now know that the looters have stolen pharaonic trinkets no. The new extension but with the big souvenir shop, which opened in November in the first was is was totally robbed.

        Question: Who were the perpetrators?


        © Eglau
        Wafaa el-Saddik (60) was from 2004 to the end of 2010 Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, one of the most famous collections of antiquities stored in the world. Her doctorate in archeology, it has made in Vienna. Before she accepted the top job in Cairo, she lived 15 years in Cologne.
        El-Saddik: These were the guardians of the museum. Some police officers have appeared on the previously pulled their jackets, as police officers not to be identified. A second group of offenders is then back on a fire escape through the roof window is increased from. The demolitions are all on the first floor, where the treasure of Tutankhamun is located.

        Question: Are there other museums in Egypt affected?

        El-Saddik: The Museum in Memphis, and his magazines have been completely robbed on Saturday morning. The leaders there have called me in desperation and prayed: “Save us, do something.” I first phoned the police, but did not respond. I’ve alerted an Army General, I know. But it was too late. With the museums in Luxor and Aswan I was on the phone, there is nothing happening. The biggest problem is the lack of protection of our museums at all. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo and all museums in Egypt are not insured. I have asked many years that this happens – without any success.

        Question: In Cairo, Egyptian Museum, the protesters then immediately with a human chain to protect?

        El-Saddik: people on the Tahrir Square have noticed that as what is going on, they immediately converted the entire site. The perpetrators, however, were inside the building. The protesters were able to arrest some, others have escaped. Fortunately, the military was then quickly on the spot, which is already deployed in the Tahrir Square was Friday evening on. Since then the museum is well protected.

        Question: Is the risk of fire in the building adjacent to the headquarters of Mubarak’s ruling party, the banned?

        El-Saddik: Yes, the danger is averted for happiness. The skyscraper has been burning for nearly two days, with wind gusts would fire on Egyptian museum can take it easy.

        MORE ABOUT
        REBELLION The violence is increasing in Egypt
        ARCHAEOLOGY Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s ruler of past
        EGYPT A country in chaos and self destruction
        Egypt | Science | Culture | Museum | Hosni Mubarak | riots
        Question: Why commit their own security guards such barbarism?

        El-Saddik: They are extremely poorly paid. I’ve written the crooked finger and money for these people demanded more. All for free. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who basically conscripts in police uniforms are. These policemen earn even less. Again and again, these young fathers to me. You have nothing. One has everything he had at home, sold, medicine for his sick child to be able to get. Other hungry even at home. But the Egyptian ministry of culture – that celebrates itself with expensive projects and receptions.

        Read more here from the art department .

  • Liafansuri

    pleeeaaaaseee stop this!!! i cant stand it!! if the they’re broken, i’m gonna die!!

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  • There are more updates on the situation on the situation, including statements by the former director of the Egyptian Museum who says the looting was an inside job, the fire is no longer a threat to the Museum, and the Memphis Museum south of Cairo has been completely looted.

  • guest


  • Evie

    Its a sin to hear about national treasures such as these being damaged or destroyed, I had the honor of seeing the king tut display in Seattle back in the 70’s. As to politicians, no one should be in office as long as that one was.

  • Claudio Prado


    Vejam no link ao lado o que esta acontecendo no Egito!

    Tao como aconteceu em Bagdad e em Kabul, os museus e os sitios arqueologicos estao sendo destruidos e roubados.

    Séculos de zelo e restauraçao estao sendo perdidos nas horas da madrugada, quando hordas de saqueadores entram nos depositos do Consaelho de Antiguidades espalhados pelo pais e arrombam as portas de ferro e saqueiam TUDO.

    Até peças do Tesouro de Tutankhamon foram roubadas !!!!!

    Algumas mumias foram sumariamente destruídas , dentro do Museu do Cairo !

    Ao longo do Nilo, aquelas cidades mais fastadas que tinham um ou dois gafires que faziam a vigilancia, tambem estao sendo saqueadas.

    Tenho tido contato com amigos de lá e as noticias sao as piores o possivel.

    Precisamos a intervençao da ONU e da UNESCO imeatamente .

    Já escrevi para a lista de pesquisadores e a noticia esta correndo!


    Claudio Prado de Mello ( Prof. Ms)
    > Archaeologist, Historian and Egyptologist

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  • Uscia

    Take all the treasures to USA !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Guest

      Where they have absolutely no place. Leave them in Egypt, where the majority of the population are immensely passionate about their culture and will die to protect it.

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  • Anonymous

    And such boosts the case by Egypt to return other antiquities such as the Rosetta Stone to the Egyptian National Museum…

    • Scottcatherine4

      and the Cleopatra Bust that Germany refuses to return. They ALL need to go back home but not right now. I think it is important, however, to collect all of the objects and artifacts that need to be returned and put them in the same secured place….perhaps a neutral country. When the country settles and is on the mend, then the objects should be returned. Yes, it is the proud history of the cradle of civilization but it is also the history of the world as it modernized. I am a curator at a US museum and know what this means on a world scale. I work very hard in keeping our history safe for the next generation. So do the heartbroken curators at the Egyptian National Museum….it is utterly sickening and heartbreaking.

  • Egiptolog

    mam nadzieje że się to więcej nie powtórzy a to co zostało zniszczone uda się jakoś naprawić

    TRANSLATION: I hope that this not happen again and what has been destroyed somehow manage to fix it

  • WalterNeff

    This week on Pawn Stars …

  • CaraLenas

    It hurts my heart to see what people have done to the history we treasure so much.

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  • Raphael

    Such an amazing historical culture… I would hope Egyptians would unanimously speak out against this and ensure it never happens again. Additionally, Hawass should hire private 24/7 security for these antiquities.

  • I would like to wish all the Egyptian people the best with their complain for a better quality of their lives, but please also fight to protect your treasure heritage. I visited the country a few times. Love it there, has such amazing historical culture. It’s so sad to see some of these antiquities have been attacked already.

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