Damaged Egyptian Artifacts

During the government protests in Egypt on January 28, 2011, artifacts from the Egyptian museum in Cairo were damaged. A group of people, or “looters”, broke into the museum and smashed about thirteen vases, a panther statue from King Tutankhamen’s tomb and stole jewelry from the gift shop. Restoration on the damaged artifacts began on Sunday. The Egyptian government has announced that the museum will remain closed until the overnight curfews are lifted.

Many Egyptologists and archaeologists are very concerned about the effect that the protests and looters will have on some of Egypt’s priceless treasures and artifacts. Kara Cooney, an assistant professor of Egyptian art and architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles, told CNN last month, “With 80 million people in a country that suffers from poverty and rising food prices … you have to expect that some people are going to be desperate and look for any means necessary to try to improve their lot.”

What can the international community and the Egyptian government do to insure that Egypt’s priceless artifacts are kept safe during this time of political and economic turmoil?



  1. Well no doubt the best way to prevent further damage would be to stop the protests. They are wanting political reform, so the government should be realizing the damaging effects of holding out on the protesters and being to make some changes. However, the government can also put security or military outside the museums to protect them. This way, they could try to keep all conflicts outside the museums instead of inside. However, this may not be the best idea since it would require a large time commitment. The third way that the artifacts could be saved is by creating an agreement with nearby countries to move the artifacts out of Egypt while the riots are continuing. Setting up special exhibits in other museums and putting the artifacts on display on loan would be a great solution that would still allow the artifacts to be seen by the public while keeping them safe.

  2. I think the best option would be to remove the artifacts during this period of political unrest. That, however, is easier said than done. Who will authorize the transportation of the artifacts out of Egypt? It is unlikely to be the Egyptian government. Perhaps the curators at the various Egyptian museums have the authority to transport the artifacts out of the country. Once they’re out of the country, how will Egypt ensure that they are returned when the political situation in Egypt settles down? Perhaps the same curators who transport the artifacts out of the country could create agreements with curators in museums outside of Egypt to store the artifacts and have them returned to Egyptian museums.

  3. It is a terrible thing when priceless artifacts are destroyed, whether the acts were justified or not. Although the Egyptians may be unhappy with their government it is no reason to damage irreplaceable treasures that represent the history of their own country. No matter how terrible the government has been acting, who are these “looters” really hurting? There is not much that the government can do to keep these artifacts absolutely safe. Any type of heightened security or transportation of the artifacts would cost the country money and resources, which may not be feasible at this time. In addition, moving the artifacts may be more dangerous than just keeping them where they are. There is no guarantee that the artifacts would even be safe in a new location and additional security would most likely still be necessary. Unfortunately, the only solution that would truly end this conflict is the government giving the people everything they want, which is just not a realistic option.

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