Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquity Affairs, said today that tombs in Saqqara and Abusir and storage areas in Saqqara and other archaeological sites had been broken into during the recent political turmoil in the country. There had also been reports of illegal excavations and land invasion, he added.
His statement confirms numerous reports from unoffcial sources, including archaeologists, that Saqqara and other sites were looted or damaged during the disruption of the country’s administration.
“The tomb of Hetep-Ka, in Saqqara, was broken into, and the false door was stolen along with objects stored in the tomb,” Hawass said in a statement distributed to the media by the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs. “In Abusir, a portion of the false door was stolen from the tomb of Re-Hotep.”
NGS stock photo by O. Louis Mazzatenta
Hawass said he had asked the supervisors of all the archaeological sites under his management to make full reports.
Antiquity Sites to Re-open to Tourists
The Minister also said that the country’s archaeological sites would re-open to the public on Sunday, February 20.
The statement released by the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs:
After a meeting between Dr. Hawass, members of the Ministry of Antiquities Affairs, and the Antiquities and Tourism Police discussing security measures, the Minister announced that all of the Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, and modern sites would reopen to the public on Sunday, 20 February 2011.
Dr. Hawass stated that he hopes tourists from around the world will soon return to Egypt.
Unfortunately, Dr. Hawass was also burdened with announcing the sad news that several sites had been vandalized.
Today, Dr. Sabry Abdel Aziz, head of the Pharaonic Sector of the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs, reported to the Minister that the tomb of Hetep-Ka, in Saqqara, was broken into, and the false door was stolen along with objects stored in the tomb.
In Abusir, a portion of the false door was stolen from the tomb of Re-Hotep.
In addition, many magazines also suffered break-ins: magazines in Saqqara, including the one near the pyramid of Teti, and the magazine of Cairo University all had their seals broken.
Dr. Hawass has created a committee to prepare reports to determine what, if anything is missing from these magazines.
The Egyptian Military caught, and dismissed, thieves attempting to loot the sites of Tell el Basta; the military also caught criminals trying to loot a tomb in Lischt.
There have also been many reports of attacks on archaeological lands through the building of houses and illegal digging.
Dr. Hawass has asked all of the sector heads in the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs to make full reports for each site in Egypt.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
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