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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.
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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:
a protester is standing on top of a tank. #jan25 http://twitpic.com/3umqpp
— Danny Ramadan
(@DannySeesIt) January 29, 2011
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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?
ONE OF OUR COMMENTERS CORROBORATES THE BLOG WE LINKED TO & SAID ZDF TV DID SAY THAT A NDP OFFICIAL WAS INVOLVED:
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:
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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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SINCE THIS IS A NEW DAY, AND THIS IS GETTING TO BE A LONG DAY, SO WE’RE STARTING A NEW THREAD WITH A SHOCKING REVELATION HERE.
NAMELY, THE FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM SAYS THE NATIONAL MUSEUM LOOTING WAS AN INSIDE JOB, THE FIRE DANGER IS OVER, AND THE MEMPHIS MUSEUM SOUTH OF CAIRO HAS BEEN LOOTED.