July 19, 2005

Egypt requests return of Pharonic reliefs

Posted at 4:44 pm in Similar cases

Although this was rather obscured by the big Egyptian request at around the same time for the return of the five most important objects in foreign museums, this is actually a very different request.
Despite the long running dispute over the Elgin Marbles, the Greek government has always continued to allow British archaeologists to continue their work in the country & the British School of Archaeology is one of the longest running foreign schools in Greece.
This latest Egyptian request accuses both Britain & Belgium of stealing artefacts & threatens to shut down archaeological digs run by these countries if the two items in question are not returned.


Egypt demands return of pharaonic reliefs from European institutions
Canadian Press
Monday, July 18, 2005

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Egypt demanded that institutions in Britain and Belgium return two pharaonic reliefs it says were chipped off tombs and stolen 30 years ago, threatening Sunday to end their archeological work here if they refuse.

The 4,400-year-old reliefs, taken from two tombs uncovered in 1965, are currently at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Britain and the Catholic University of Brussels. A request has been sent to both seeking their return, Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said in a statement.

The demand was the latest in a series of attempts by Egypt to recover ancient treasures that were taken out of the country, either through theft or what the Egyptians have termed “imperialism.” On Wednesday, Egypt said it had approached UNESCO to intervene on its behalf to lobby for the return of the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, the bust of Nefertiti at Berlin’s Egyptian Museum and three other artifacts.

Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he would cut off the Catholic University’s excavation mission at a site in Deir al-Barsha, near the southern town of Minya, if the relief was not returned, and would suspend the Fitzwilliam Museum’s “scientific relationship” with archeologists working here if the British institution did not co-operate.

“We are not afraid of anything, anyone who makes a mistake should be punished. This is history. We need our history, and anyone who steals our artifacts has no place in Egypt,” Hawass said.

The Fitzwilliam Museum said no one could immediately comment on the report Sunday. There was also no immediate comment from the Catholic University.

The reliefs came from two tombs uncovered in 1965 in a necropolis next to the Stepped Pyramid at Saqqara, outside Cairo.

A third relief was returned to Egypt from the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels last month after Egypt’s antiquities council put on hold a request by the museum to extend its excavation work, the statement said. With the return, the council has agreed to allow the work to continue.
© The Canadian Press 2005

Jerusalem Post

Jul. 19, 2005 3:16 | Updated Jul. 19, 2005 14:18
Egypt to UK: Return Rosetta Stone

Egypt has demanded that Britain return the Rosetta Stone, the priceless artifact that helped crack the code of hieroglyphics. The move is the latest attempt by Egypt to retrieve its ancient history.

Egypt’s top archeologist accused Britain and Belgium of stealing artifacts and announced that Egypt would host a conference for countries which have lost their historical artifacts to other countries.

Palestinian archeologists hope that the conference will help them gain back the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem, which has been under Israeli control since 1967, and to retrieve what their Israeli counterparts took from the West Bank and Gaza.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s chief archeologist, threatened to shut down archeological digs run by British and Belgian scholars in Egypt if the 4,400-year-old reliefs that were taken from two tombs uncovered in 1965 are not returned.

“We sent a letter to the Fitzwilliams Museum in Britain and the Catholic University in Belgium asking them to bring the two pieces stolen from the Giza pyramids in 1965,” Hawass told The Jerusalem Post. The Catholic University is presently excavating in Deir al-Barsha, near the southern town of Minya and the Fitzwilliams Museum at Cambridge University has archeologists at the site.

“We will use our scientific relationship to put pressure on them,” said Hawass.

Asked if this meant he would halt digs, Hawass, who is the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, did not mince his words: “Exactly,” he said.

He issued his ultimatum on Sunday, days after he called on the United Nations cultural organization, UNESCO, to pressure the world-famous British Museum to return the stone, where it is one of the star attractions.

The three-foot stone slab, which was carved in 196 BCE and discovered by French soldiers in upper Egypt in 1799, contains a text written in three languages by a group of priests to honor the pharaoh. The languages include hieroglyphics, used by the pharaohs; demotic, which was the common script of Egypt; and Greek.

If and when returned, the Rosetta Stone will be housed in one of Egypt’s two museums now under construction: the Grand Egyptian Museum or the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

However, the Rosetta Stone was not the only famous artifact on the Egyptian list.

“There are five unique artifacts which we want back,” Hawass told the Post.

The other four are the Nefertiti bust in Berlin’s Egyptian Museum; the Zodiac in the French Louvre; the bust of Hemiunu, the architect of the Great Pyramid which is at the Hildesheim Museum; and the bust of Ankhkhaf, the architect of the Second Pyramid which is on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Hawass has also called on UNESCO to send invitations to all the countries who have unique artifacts they want back to come to a conference in November.

“Then we can discuss together how to retrieve what we lost,” said Hawass.

Dr. Moain Sadeq, director- general of the Department of Antiquities in Gaza and a participant in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 1994 on archeological issues, told the Post he believed the conference could help return Palestinian archeological artifacts.

“When we meet with our colleagues in UNESCO and from departments of antiquities around the world, we will ask for help and support in the returning of artifacts taken from the 1967 Palestinian Territories and the return of the Palestine Museum,” said Sadeq.

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1 Comment »

  1. Vicehybrid said,

    07.27.10 at 9:05 am

    …let them return the Afrikan belongings, they stole our artifacts and magic then brainwashed us to look down on the very magic they using today to control the world. bring back our History you morons

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